Manchester City defender Manuel Akanji said Bruno Fernandes’ Manchester derby equalizer was a “joke”, while Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag admitted he “wouldn’t happy if we concede a goal like this”.
Fernandes swept past Ederson to cancel out Jack Grealish’s opener but the goal was initially ruled out with assistant referee Darren Cann raising his flag for offside against Marcus Rashford.
The England international was clearly offside and ran for the ball, but after a chat with Cann referee Stuart Attwell decided Rashford was not interfering with play.
Rashford brought home Alejandro Garnacho’s cross moments later to give United a 2-1 win in a rowdy Old Trafford, leaving them a point behind second-placed City.
“I can see the disappointment on the other side”
Akanji was Rashford’s closest defender and played the offside trap as the striker crossed Casemiro’s ball.
He raced for the ball before leaving it after receiving a shout from Fernandes, who passed an advancing Ederson.
Fernandes reacted angrily to the offside flag and both groups of players rallied around Cann and Attwell during their discussion.
“To be honest, the first goal is a joke,” Akanji told BBC Match of the Day. “I saw Rashford, he was clearly offside, so I took him offside.
“He runs until the last second and he stops when the ball is in front of him and it’s right in front of Eddy [Ederson]ready to score the goal, because Bruno Fernandes shouts it.
“I understand that he does not touch the ball but he runs for 30 meters and until the last second. For me it is clearly offside. The referee does not even look at the situation, we explained it at the start of the year it would be clearly offside.”
Ten Hag, who won his first Manchester derby on the second claim, said: “I could see from the other side that it confused the backline, that was clear. That’s the rule too. .
“I wouldn’t be happy if it was also my team if we conceded a goal like this. I can see the disappointment on the other side, but I can also see that the referee did well.”
City boss Pep Guardiola added: “Marcus Rashford is offside, not Bruno Fernandes. Rashford has distracted our goalkeeper and centre-backs. That’s what it is. We know where we are playing. It’s difficult for referees in these stadiums.”
Former Manchester City defender Micah Richards, speaking on BBC Match of the Day, said: “It’s a shocking decision, let’s be honest.
“The nature of it, as a defender, if somebody’s there, let’s say you’re the striker, I’m constantly adjusting my position depending on where you’re going to be. I don’t worry for nobody behind me. You’re trying to play a high line and that’s an art.”
Former England and Arsenal striker Ian Wright added: “It should have been offside. Manuel Akanji stops because he sees Marcus Rashford running offside. He is interfering because Akanji tried to knock him offside, then Ederson moved to save where he thinks he’s going to shoot, he got everyone’s attention.
Former England striker Gary Lineker added: “I don’t understand how you can possibly say Rashford isn’t interfering.”
“He doesn’t interfere with anyone”
For their part, Rashford and Fernandes believed the goal should have stood.
“I thought I had gone a bit early so I didn’t run. If I had run for the ball I would have just taken it, shot it or passed it. I thought I was offside, so I didn’t touch the ball,” Rashford said.
“That’s all I can do in this situation and then it’s up to the referee and the linesman. In my opinion, I was not involved in the game. I felt like it should have been.”
Fernandes, speaking on BT Sport, said: “I was in front of goal, Marcus probably saw that I was in a better position. I didn’t know if either of us was offside. He didn’t exerted no influence on the defenders. it is what it is.”
Former Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand and midfielder Paul Scholes, working as pundits at BT Sport, agreed.
Ferdinand said: “Rashford has no impact on defenders’ strides, patterns or positions. It’s smart of him and Fernandes. I don’t think any of the defenders can influence anything. “
Scholes said: “He doesn’t interfere with anyone. It’s good communication and a great finish.”
Former Manchester City defender Joleon Lescott agreed it should have been a goal but added: “That’s the part of the rule that I don’t like. The defender did well to play off- Game.”
What the law says?
The official Ifab law book for 2022-23 (rule 11.2) says:
A player in an offside position when the ball is played or touched by a team-mate is only penalized if he engages in active play by:
- interfere with play by playing or touching a ball passed or touched by a teammate or
- interfere with an opponent by:
1. Preventing an opponent from playing or being able to play the ball by clearly obstructing the opponent’s field of vision or
2. Challenge an opponent for the ball or
3. Clearly trying to play a ball that is close when that action impacts an opponent or
4. Taking an obvious action that clearly impacts an opponent’s ability to play the ball
- gain an advantage by playing the ball or interfering with an opponent when they have:
1. Rebounded or was deflected off the goal post, crossbar, match referee or an opponent
2. Been deliberately saved by any opponent
‘Rashford must interfere’ – how social media reacted
Well: I don’t support any team but it’s 100% offside. Rashford passes out to shoot and the keeper and defenders watch two players. The officials invent it as they go along.
Paul J: Rashford does not obstruct or play this ball. He MUST stay upright. Nothing controversial there.
Steve: Shocking VAR did not deny the first goal and the second is the consequence. Refs and VAR are indefensible.
Alex Haworth: I mean the equalizer is 100% offside, Rashford headed the ball towards Bruno. But what a turnaround.
Andre Mitchell: I’m a Utd fan so obviously happy, but yet another demonstration of how ridiculous the offside rule is. Rashford may not have touched it but he is chasing that ball, for all intents and purposes he owns it, how can he not be an active player?
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