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Here's why Benteke's goal should have been disallowed, according to the new offside guidelines

Allow us to explain.

CHRISTIAN BENTEKE SCORED his first goal for Liverpool last night in a 1-0 win over promoted side Bournemouth at Anfield. But should it have been ruled out for offside?

The Belgian international netted the winner from close-range in the 26th minute, but Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe felt that in attempting to play the ball before it reached Benteke, his team-mate Philippe Coutinho had been offside.

 

Why should this have been offside?

Before this season began, the International FA Board (IFAB) issued new guidance to match officials around the offside law. The two new points guidance were an addition to the current interpretation of interfering with an opponent.

They are:

A player in an offside position shall be penalised if he:
1. clearly attempts to play a ball which is close to him when this action impacts on an opponent
OR
2. makes an obvious action which clearly impacts on the ability of an opponent to play the ball.
The second part of the guidance has two elements – obvious action and impact.

According to the Premier League’s official website, for an offside to be penalised:

“match officials will have to consider whether an obvious action by an attacking player in an offside position means that the opponent would need to delay his action to wait and see if the attacking player in an offside position touches or plays the ball, and/or, the opponent’s movement or ball-playing options are clearly restricted by the movement and/or actions of the attacking player in an offside position.”
So, the new rule basically dictates that if a player makes a movement toward the ball while in an offside position — even if they don’t touch it — then they will be ruled offside.
For the first piece of guidance, they give the example of this ball from Eden Hazard to Diego Costa as a situation where an offside offence has been committed:

An example of the second piece of guidance, which is the one that applies in the case of Philippe Coutinho against Bournemouth, can be seen in this clip from Arsenal v Liverpool last season.

As you can clearly see here, Raheem Sterling is in an offside position and makes an obvious action toward the ball.

 

Coutinho makes an ‘obvious action’

When Jordan Henderson crosses the ball into the box, you can clearly see that Coutinho is an offside position.

The Brazilian is making his way back onside when he sees the ball travelling towards him and changes direction, making an obvious action toward the ball — even lifting his leg to try and get on the end of the cross.

This action has a clear impact on Bournemouth goalkeeper Artur Boruc, who can’t commit to stopping Benteke at the far post and instead has to stay central in case Coutinho gets a touch on the ball.

So, in this case, an offside player has contributed to a goal being scored — even though he didn’t touch the ball — and the referee should have disallowed the goal.

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About the author:

Donal Lucey

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