Smith Rowe goal: ‘Never seen anything like it’ – but should it have stood?

It took over three minutes for the officials to decide if Smith Rowe’s goal should stand or not

Mikel Arteta said he had never seen a goal like it. Michael Carrick was glad he didn’t have to address it for too long. So should Emile Smith Rowe’s opener for Arsenal at Old Trafford have stood or not?

On a night of excitement, drama, controversy – and the landmark of Cristiano Ronaldo passing 800 career goals – Smith Rowe’s finish in Arsenal’s 3-2 defeat at Manchester United on Thursday remained a big talking point afterwards.

It was fired in with United goalkeeper David de Gea down injured after team-mate Fred had stood on his heel following a corner.

The video assistant referee would eventually award the goal, with widespread confusion in the ground giving way to Arsenal joy and Manchester United fury.

Before we hear what the managers, players and pundits think of it all, let’s clear up exactly what happened.

How the incident played out…

With 13 minutes on the clock, Martin Odegaard swung in an Arsenal corner that Harry Maguire headed clear, but only as far as Mohamed Elneny, who steered the ball to Smith Rowe 20 yards out.

Around the time of the initial clearance, De Gea had his heel trodden on accidentally by Fred, causing him to go down on his goalline, where he stayed with his back to play. It meant he was unable to react when Smith Rowe’s otherwise saveable shot was fired on target.

From the corner kick being taken to the shot finding the net, seven seconds elapsed, during which time referee Martin Atkinson did now blow his whistle to halt play.

Television pictures suggested Atkinson did not spot De Gea on the floor until the moment Smith Rowe struck the ball, as the official was facing away from goal in those moments to follow the ball.

Atkinson did blow his whistle shortly after the ball hit the net, wagging his finger to suggest he had ruled the goal out.

It would be another three minutes and 15 seconds before a definitive decision was made, with the goal awarded after advice from VAR.

Ultimately, since it was Fred who impeded De Gea, there was nothing in the laws to suggest the goal should be ruled out.

‘We could have been here all night’

Always difficult if you…..

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