Manchester City will be left wondering what could have been tonight as Liverpool progressed to the Champions League semi-finals after coming from behind to win at The Etihad and secure a 5-1 aggregate win.

Trailing 3-0 from the first leg, City’s Gabriel Jesus scored in the opening two minutes before Leroy Sane had a goal disallowed for offside despite James Milner getting the last touch.

Mohamed Salah equalised after the break before Roberto Firmino hit the winner with thirteen minutes to spare.

However much discussion will follow the game after the controversial decision to disallow Leroy Sane’s goal which would have put the hosts 2-0 up. City manager Pep Guardiola was forced to watch the whole of the second half from the stand after being sent off by Spanish referee Antonio Mateu Lahoz at the end of a controversial first half.

Guy Beale provided live text commentary during the game and provided this full-time summary:

The story of this game from the officials perspective starts and ends with a big mistake in chalking off a goal for Manchester City for offside which was wrong in law at the end of the first half.

The referee as leader of the team will take the major criticism, but he was let down badly by AR1: Pau Cebrián Devís (Technical Area), and the Additional Assistant Referee behind the Manchester City goal-line.

I can relate to the AR raising his flag, but that should have been the beginning of the process and between them the officials should have communicated and put all the pieces of the jigsaw together and come to the correct decision that when the Liverpool goalkeeper punches the ball clear, a new phase of play begins. So when the ball hits James Milner and rebounds back in, Leroy Sane is in an offside position (because there is only one defender between himself and the goal-line) but as the ball hasn’t been played to him by a team-mate, he has not committed an offside offence.

In the interests of completeness, I actually found very little about the rest of referee Antonio Mateu Lahoz’s performance to criticise tonight. OK, he was not in the same league as Felix Brych in the first leg, but he was consistent and did his best to let the game flow, whilst always stepping in at the first signs of reckless play of blatant dissent. But none of that will be any consolation to the team or officials when they tuck into their dinner this evening, trust me, it will be very quiet around the table as they all reflect on what could have been.

Read Guy’s full commentary on RefCam here.


  1. I sometimes wonder if referees are deliberately trying to get VAR introduced permanently. If three referees within 15 yards of the ball can’t see that came off a player in red (and communicate appropriately yo come to the correct decision which they didn’t) then refereeing as a profession may as well just give up.

  2. Read FIFA, Laws of the Game, Law 11, interpretation. Sane was taking advantage of his offside position and was correctly penalized, because Karius made a save and Milner did not deliberately play the ball.

  3. I agree with Christoph, and also Mark Foley who’s quote of the Laws in Guy’s commentary was arrogantly and condescendingly dealt with: “..player in an offside position is only penalised if the ball was last touched or played by a team mate, ENF OF! We remain here to educate everyone”.

    But that is not true, as IFAB Laws document clearly shows. As I read the Laws, the ball has to be deliberately played by an opponent to put the attacking player onside.

    I don’t think Milner’s touch was deliberate. If Guy thinks it was then he could have clarified the Law and stated that in his opinion Milner’s touch was deliberate. Therefore Sane was onside and the goal was wrongly disallowed.

    Guy could also have made the valid point that had the ref decided that contact was accidental, then the goal was correctly disallowed.

    Many of us do come to this site to be educated and by simply dismissing an alternative opinion is far from teaching us how to interpret the Laws.

    I think YatR let itself down in this instance by treating one of its readers with disdain.

  4. Christoph Horst – you’re wrong. Law 11 states “A player in an offside position receiving the ball from an opponent who deliberately plays the ball (except from a deliberate save by any opponent) is considered to have gained an advantage”. Milner deliberately plays the ball. He moves to kick the ball and prevent it going to the opponent behind him to have a shooting opportunity on goal. That’s deliberately playing the ball. Not sure what other footage you are looking at because it is irrefutable when you watch it back.

  5. Thank god Everton fan Chris Foy is no longer refereeing the game.

    The ball back to Sane was from a clear rebound on Milner. The save via a punch from Karius negates De Bruyne’s original pass and resets the offside from that point just as Karius kicking the ball would. Law 11 states If the ball rebounds off a post, crossbar or player and the player standing in an offside position receives the ball therefore gaining an advantage then it is offside. He was offside because he was standing beyond the 2nd last defender, in this instance Karius.

    Just goes to show that pundits do not always understand the rules themselves but a pundit who is an ex referee getting it wrong is shocking.

  6. Is Milner deliberately playing the ball though. If you look at what happened at full speed you can argue that it is more of a deflection, in which case Sane is offside.

    Milner has hardly any time to react in the 0.01 second that it takes the ball to get to him. His leg moving like that is pure instinct. The fact of the matter is that the offside law in this regard is very vague. We saw this with the Lovren/Kane incident in February.

  7. Would agree with Peter Hicks comments on the way that Guy presented this point and kind of ridiculed another opinion without really bringing any clarity. Had hoped for a better explanation from the site and am sorely disappointed with the way this was handled

  8. Sane was ONSIDE.

    Here’s the structure of the law (directly from the book):

    (base statement) A player in an offside position at the moment the ball is played or touched by
    a team-mate is only penalised on becoming involved in active play by:

    (case 1): interfering with play by playing or touching a ball passed or touched by
    a team-mate
    (case 2): interfering with an opponent by: (some examples listed. Not germane to our argument)
    (case 3): gaining an advantage by playing the ball or interfering with an opponent
    when it has:
    (case 3a): rebounded or been deflected off the goalpost, crossbar, match official or an
    (case 3b): been deliberately saved by any opponent

    The text continues to further define what a “save” is.

    Some argue that Sane gained an advantage off a rebound from an opponent (case 3a) in the rule book. HOWEVER.. this is the MOST IMPORTANT PART.. is that case 3a ONLY APPLIES if the (base statement) is true.

    Sane was clearly ONSIDE “at the moment the ball is played or touched by a team-mate”; therefore, the (base statement) is not true, so there is no need to evaluate any of the cases.

  9. Had a conversation with a ref at a football tournament at Millfield school yesterday. The refs colleague is on the FA rules committee,. He maintains the goal should have stood simply because Karius punched the ball onto Milner so it was deamed in some strange way that Karius played Sane on side. If Karius had punched the ball and it hit a Man City player and then deflected onto Milner Sane would have been offside. Everyone accepts it was not a deliberate back pass which is the reason I argued Sane was offide. Badically as clear as mud


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