Howard Webb makes a decision that seems to have annoyed both Old Trafford and Anfield bosses at the same time.
Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez felt Manchester United’s Antonio Valencia dived to win a penalty that turned the game as the hosts came back to win 2-1.
Fernando Torres put Liverpool ahead before Javier Mascherano was ruled to have fouled Valencia and Wayne Rooney fired in a rebound from his spot-kick.
“The way he fell down is strange. When you see the replay it is suspicious how he went to the ground,” said Benitez.
Ji-Sung Park headed in the winner for United in the 60th minute.
The result returned United to the top of the Premier League and damaged Liverpool’s hopes of securing fourth place in the table and the final Champions League spot.
Benitez believes the penalty was the turning point of the match.
“We gave away the penalty too early – but there are doubts about the penalty,” stated Benitez.
Asked whether he thought Valencia had dived, he added: “From the replay I think so.
“The penalty made a big difference. We were playing well and had confidence and then one situation changed everything.”
There was also some doubt as to whether referee Howard Webb should have awarded a free-kick instead of a penalty as the initial contact between Mascherano and Valencia appeared to take place outside the area.
But Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson was adamant that Webb made the right decision, although he did question the fact that Mascherano was not sent off.
“The referee was right, he tugged him down. He didn’t bring him down outside the box, he didn’t go down until he was inside the box. The decision was correct,” said Ferguson.
“I thought it was a red card. There was no way Jamie Carragher could get across and stop Valencia from shooting – he is too quick for Carragher to get across.
“The law is if you stop someone from having a goalscoring opportunity it is a red card. Not today.” (BBC Sport)
So there you have it. There are two sides to every story and it appears this one is no different. First there is the discussion on whether the tackle was in the box or not and secondly whether the Old Trafford winger went down to quickly and thirdly whether or not Javier Mascherano should have been sent off for the offence.
Feel free to voice your feelings on the matter by voting on the poll to the right. The video is below for you to view for yourselves. One thing is for certain, the decision came at a crucial point in the game and will have had an effect on the outcome either way so there is no doubting the importance of the decision by Howard Webb.
The incident can be seen on the video below.