FIFA law states Alexander-Arnold couldn’t be sent off for handball once Atsu scored

Liverpool travelled to Newcastle United on Saturday evening knowing that anything but a win would put their hopes of winning the title in serious jeopardy.

Jurgen Klopp’s men were pegged back twice by Rafa Benitez’s men but in the end they left with all three points thanks to Divock Origi’s dramatic late winner.

In an intense game full of tough tackles, one of the most controversial moments of the encounter at St James’ Park came in the 20th-minute when Christian Atsu made it 1-1.

During the build- up to the winger’s equaliser, Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold handled the ball on the goal line but was not shown a red card by referee Andre Marriner.

Plenty of football fans watching the match were furious at the decision, however FIFA’s official rulebook suggests that Marriner wasn’t allowed to send Alexander-Arnold off after all.


The mayhem began when Javier Manquillo, who spent the 2014-15 season on loan at Liverpool, whipped a cross into the Reds’ penalty area.

Alexander-Arnold and Salomon Rondon both missed it but the Venezuelan striker managed to re-direct Matt Ritchie’s subsequent effort on target and towards goal.

Rondon’s strike hit Alexander-Arnold on the arm, at which point pretty much everyone in the stadium screamed for handball, but Atsu tapped in the rebound.


So, not only did the Liverpool right-back’s handball not get given, but the referee failed to award him a card of any colour in the aftermath.

Alexander-Arnold assisted his 11th league goal of the season (and second of the game) seven minutes later but FIFA rules clarify it was right for him to stay on the pitch.

On the subject of “Denying a goal or a goal-scoring opportunity”, FIFA’s rules state:

“If the referee applies advantage during an obvious goal-scoring opportunity and a goal is scored directly, despite the opponent’s handling the ball or fouling an opponent, the player cannot be sent off but may still be cautioned.”

So, it turns out that Alexander-Arnold shouldn’t have been sent off because Newcastle ended up scoring, but the 20-year-old almost certainly should have received a yellow card.

The 3-2 victory on Tyneside lifts Liverpool two points ahead of champions Manchester City, having played a game more, with Pep Guardiola’s team hosting Leicester City on Monday.