Liverpool may have stumbled to a 1-0 loss to Real Madrid, but things could have been much worse when Karim Benzema had a goal ruled out for offside in the first half of the Champions League final.
The French striker converted from close range late in the half after a defensive mix-up from Jurgen Klopp’s side saw Federico Valverde’s pass deflected by Fabinhho and into the path of Benzema.
After a lengthy VAR review, the decision was made to disallow the goal due to Madrid’s talisman being offside.
With the ball to Benzema taking his final touch on Fabinho, players and fans were torn over whether the decision to disallow the goal was correct, but according to talkSPORT co-commentator Andy Townsend the VAR team took the right decision.
He explained: “The initial pass was played for Benzema, I wondered if he was offside but he clearly wasn’t at the time.
“He cuts back and sits Alisson down, the red shirts fly towards him at the edge of the penalty area but you expect him to put it in the net, he doesn’t.
“The goalkeeper then gropes him and, at that moment, Fabinho slips in, knocks him into the path of Benzema who puts him in the net.
“This simple contact from Valverde, was it intended for Benzema? So I think it’s the Madrid player who becomes active because his own teammate has just pushed the ball forward.
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“Even though he hasn’t traveled a foot, Fabinho makes massive contact and puts it in the way of Benzema who puts it.
“Because of Valverde’s throw-in, he is offside.”
Townsend added: “In the VAR suite they are looking for details. Did Valverde touch the ball or was it Fabinho who sent it in Benzema’s way?
“Valverde touched the ball; where it was going we have no idea because it traveled about six inches.
“From what we can see on our monitors with the replay, there were about three situations.
“Benzema’s first race, was he offside? I think he was good.
“Then it came down to whether there had been a foul by a Real Madrid player on a Liverpool shirt, I couldn’t quite see who it could have been.
“At the end of the day, it’s Valverde’s touch before Fabinho comes in and hits Benzema that scores.
“I think the slightest touch from Valverde does indeed make Benzema active in an offside position.”
talkSPORT host Adrian Durham disagreed with Townsend’s comments, saying: “That’s one of the issues I have with VAR.
“There were definitely several incidents that they were considering and it’s like they’re looking for a reason to rule out the goal and I really don’t like that attitude.”
However, in line with Townsend’s initial assessment, Jim Proudfoot expressed his belief that it was the right decision to rule out Benzema’s effort.
He said: “I have to admit I was surprised. I thought the goal was going to hold.
“He was in an offside position, I think what probably saved Liverpool was whether Fabinho deliberately tried to play him.
“The word ‘deliberate’ is in the offside law, so if Fabinho deliberately tried to play that ball and it went to Benzema, then it’s not offside and the goal should count.
“I can only imagine that it was judged that Valverde’s film hit Fabinho and went to Fabinho, he didn’t deliberately try to play him.
“I think Fabinho’s conscious decision to play the ball there, or the fact that he didn’t, is what saved Liverpool.”
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