Reviewing The Controversial Nani Goal

There’s a lot of discussion over Nani’s bizarre game-clinching goal for Manchester United against Tottenham. I’m going to post the (soon to be taken down) video of what exactly happened and elaborate a little more on why this goal is controversial.

By the time I’m finished publishing this the video might be removed so in summary:

1.) Nani goes down under the challenge of Younas Kaboul, claiming a penalty should be awarded.

2.) The ball stays in play and Hurelho Gomes believes a free kick has been given because the ball appeared to touch Nani’s hand so he quickly picks it up with time running short. At no point did referee Mark Clattenburg whistle for a free kick nor did his linesmen raise their flags for an infringement.

3.) Gomes drops the ball as if it was a free kick when in fact the ball was still in play, but Nani sneaks in, steals the ball, and scores to make it 2-0.

4.) One of the linesmen raises his flag for no apparent reason as Spurs protest. The goal for the moment is disallowed while Clattenburg and the linesman discuss what in the world happened. Clattenburg gives the goal and the rest is history.

That is a lot to digest and I believe that this is partly the officials making a mess of things and 95% Gomes having a gigantic brain cramp.

I will first show that the initial controversy over the penalty. I’ve watched the videos and unquestionably a penalty should have been given.

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The 3rd screenshot shows Kaboul clearly tugging on Nani’s shirt, he goes down (admittedly a bit dramatically) but the intent was there and the referee should’ve blown his whistle for the penalty. I’ve seen less given for minimal contact and Kaboul was holding in the penalty box.

Next up is whether or not the ball was out of play, and clearly it wasn’t.

Gomes would immediately pick the ball up, but with no whistle this is still a “live ball” and anyone can touch it. I will admit there was a handball by Nani as he fell over but I’m not sure the referee saw it. If he did I believe it is within his discretion as whether or not it was intentional, and because Gomes picked it up swiftly it’s possible he saw the handball as nullified with Gomes in possession of the ball.

There was no free kick, there was no stoppage, so Gomes’ decision not to play until the whistle is his fault and all things considered the goal was rightfully counted. I have yet to see undeniable proof Clattenburg signalled free-kick or “ball back in play”. One more thing to consider is Gomes placed the ball about 10 yards from where the handball occurred and under no circumstances would Mr. Clattenburg allow this to happen. That was very clever by Nani to realize the situation and get the crucial goal when the game was hanging in the balance.

I’m sure the FA are reviewing this heavily as there are lots of questions to be asked about the poor officiating prior to and during the goal.

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