THEY always say in football that it doesn’t matter how you score as long as you stick that darn ball into the goal.
But as with so many of those over-used sayings in football like, “I want a transfer because the club can’t match my ambitions”, or “England should be good enough to beat their up-coming opponents”, it’s not really true.
Tottenham Hotspur fans, for example, won’t be endorsing that view after Nani’s controversial goal against their team last weekend.
After Manchester United had a penalty appeal denied, Spurs’ keeper Heurelho Gomes thought the referee had given a free kick against Nani for handball, so he dropped the ball and took a few steps back so he could kick it forward.
But referee Mark Clattenburg never blew his whistle, so Nani ran to the ball and stroked it past Gomes and into the back of the net. The Spurs players argued furiously that Nani had in fact handled the ball, but Clattenburg allowed the goal to stand.
Sunderland would know how Spurs are feeling right now, having been on the receiving end of a controversial goal themselves just a few weeks ago against Liverpool. The only difference was that Sunderland did get a free kick – they just didn’t realise they had taken it when Michael Turner pushed it back so his goalkeeper could get it. Fernando Torres latched on to the “pass” and squared for Dirk Kuyt to score a simple tap-in.So, it does matter sometimes how a ball ends up behind the posts. The two examples we’ve had of that recently were actually awarded to the letter of the law, but here are a few controversial “goals” that shouldn’t have been:
Darren Bent/Beach Ball
It went down as a goal for Sunderland’s Bent, but it really should have gone to the beach ball or at least the fan who threw it on the pitch.
Bent had hit a tame shot towards the goal that Liverpool keeper Pepe Reina seemed to have covered. However, the beach ball got in the way and redirected the football past Reina with a deft flick that Torres himself would’ve been proud of.
According to the rules, the goal should have been disallowed because it was scored due to interference by a foreign object on the pitch, but referee Mike Jones had no idea and awarded it anyway.
Thanks to Henry, we were all treated to the pathetic soap opera that was the French national team at this year’s World Cup. In extra time of France’s play-off with the Republic of Ireland to determine who’d make it to South Africa, Henry controlled a pass with his arm on his way to scoring the winning goal.
It caused a huge uproar, with people labeling Henry a cheat and Roy Keane famously saying “what goes around comes around” in a tone that suggested Henry should and would have a broken jaw and busted knee a la Alf-Inge Haaland coming around soon.
To be fair, as he was moping around with the rest of the French team in South Africa having their reputations dragged through the mud with those embarrassing displays, he was probably thinking to himself: “This is SO so not worth all that hand-ball drama.”
John Eustace/referee Stuart Atwell and linesman Nigel Bannister
They call it the “ghost goal”, officially awarded as an own goal to Watford player Eustace even though the ball had crossed the line about 1.5m outside the goalposts. It was really nowhere near being a goal, but somehow, Atwell decided on the advice of Bannister that the goal was legit.
It happened during a 2008 Coca-Cola Championship match against Reading, whose boss Steve Coppell agreed to replay the game should Watford’s request to do so was approved.
The league decided the 2-2 result would stand, leading Watford to urge their fans to lobby for Atwell and Bannister to be credited with the goal instead of Eustace.
Atwell, who was the youngest referee to have officiated in the Premier League at the time at 25, was also the referee who allowed Kuyt’s goal against Sunderland.
The former Arsenal wing wizard bears the unfortunate title of being the scorer of one of the most unsportsman-like goals ever, even though it mostly wasn’t his fault.
Arsenal were playing Sheffield United in the FA Cup in 1999, when United goalkeeper Alan Kelly booted the ball out of play so that an injured teammate could get treatment.
The unwritten rule here would be for Arsenal to give the ball back to United, which midfielder Ray Parlour tried to do by throwing the ball back in towards Kelly.
But with 10 minutes left in the game and the score tied at 1-1, Nwankwo Kanu, making his debut for Arsenal, raced onto the throw in and crossed for Overmars to tap home the winning goal.
Steve Bruce, United’s manager at the time, was so incensed that he asked his players to leave the field. But according to the letter of the law, the referee had no choice but to award the goal.
Arsenal’s excuse was that despite having played at the highest level with Ajax and Inter Milan, Kanu didn’t know that what he did was considered unsporting behaviour.
But his manager Arsene Wenger knew, and offered Sheffield a replay, which they also won 2-1.
Maradona handed Argentina a lead, literally, against England in the quarterfinals of the 1986 World Cup when the diminutive genius clearly punched the ball past goalkeeper Peter Shilton as they both jumped for the ball.
He said the goal was “a little with the head of Maradona, and a little with the hand of God.” Well, I guess that’s one way to call yourself a god.
But Maradona did score a proper goal in that game. He dribbled past six England players in a 60m run to score what would eventually be voted FIFA’s World Cup “Goal of the Century”.