Saturday’s Merseyside derby wasn’t short of controversy.
Everton and Liverpool can almost certainly be relied upon to create drama when they go head-to-head, and their 2-2 draw in the early kick-off had it all.
Virgil van Dijk suffered a potentially season-ending injury following a reckless challenge from Jordan Pickford.
The Everton goalkeeper avoided a red card following the clash, but teammate Richarlison didn’t after he hacked Thiago Alcantara.
And it wasn’t just Van Dijk and Thiago going down that left Liverpool feeling extremely frustrated with proceedings at Goodison Park.
Jordan Henderson thought that he had grabbed a winner when he swept the ball into the back of the net deep into injury-time.
The Liverpool captain wheeled away in delight, but his celebrations were cut short when VAR ruled the goal out as Sadio Mane was deemed to be offside when he received Thiago’s pass.
It was an incredibly tight call. There would have been few complaints had Henderson’s goal been allowed to stand.
Henderson’s anger was summed up when he accused VAR of altering the line to disallow goals at full-time.
“It must be offside with VAR, it’s what everyone wants,” he told BT Sport, per the Daily Mail.
“I think they bend the lines sometimes to make it offside. I’m not sure how they do it, I’ve seen it before.”
Jordan Henderson waiting to hear if he is in trouble with the FA for suggesting officials ‘bend the lines’ to allow offside to be given. He made the comments when being shown a replay by broadcaster BT Sport a couple of minutes after the final whistle. #awlfc [@_ChrisBascombe] pic.twitter.com/pQVpDVy1N9— Anfield Watch (@AnfieldWatch) October 18, 2020
Clattenburg: Mane WAS offside
Jurgen Klopp was also baffled by the decision. But according to former Premier League referee Mark Clattenburg, VAR got it right.
Writing in his column for the Daily Mail, Clattenburg admitted that, while the offside call didn’t sit right with him, Mane was offside according to the new rules.
“Don’t blame VAR – blame the law,” Clattenburg said. “Sadio Mane was ruled offside for Jordan Henderson’s goal and the Liverpool captain complained about the camera angle shown on television.
“He suggested officials ‘bend the lines’ to make it offside. At the risk of ruining a good conspiracy, I’m afraid that isn’t the case!
“It’s like watching a horse race in your living room – you may think your horse has won, then the photo finish shows you lost. We see a certain angle on television and that can trick you into thinking someone is onside.
“But the technology used by VAR is designed to draw lines that are parallel on the pitch. It triangulates a picture that, rest assured, is not crooked.
“After that, it’s about finding the players’ furthest points forward. Mane’s was his sleeve – as per the new rules – and that was rightly measured against an Everton foot. So the Liverpool striker was indeed offside, but this doesn’t sit right with me.
“Our beautiful game is about goals and we don’t want to see those ruled out by a millimetre here or there. It is the law that needs to be looked at, rather than the application of VAR.”