David Luiz’s phantom strike: Own goal, invisible deflection, or handball?

The Rio Report

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On the one hand, the Rio Report has a lot of sympathy for David Luiz trying to claim a Chilean own goal as his during the opening last-16 clash of the World Cup. It's the World Cup - who wouldn't want to score?

On the other hand... well, really. Are you sure you scored, David? Because it really didn't look like it from where we were sitting.

The goal was a good one: a terrific corner whipped in by Neymar, nodded on by Thiago Silva towards the far post where Chilean defender Gonzalo Jara shinned it in.

Luiz was standing right behind him - close enough to feel the breeze of the ball, right enough. And in the split second that he saw it fly in, Luiz had a decision to make: do I try and claim this regardless of the fact that it probably didn't come off me?

The former Chelsea defender took stock of the incident in that millisecond and thought, "Hey, why not? Let's give a go!" Which is more or less the same thought process he follows when considering a risky run from deep that would leave his defensive colleagues short of cover.

He had a lot of people fooled. The player's reaction alone convinced dozens of media outlets - not to mention FIFA's official website - to credit the Brazilian centre-back with the strike, despite the clear evidence of their own eyes.

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Quickly, however, things began to change as plenty of people realised they might have been hoodwinked. Retractions went out on Twitter, corrections appeared on TV stations.

FIFA are still, at the time of writing, giving it to Luiz - but there will be some sort of inquest afterwards to either confirm him as a goalscorer or decide that it was indeed an own goal.

From every angle that we've seen since the ball crossed the line it seems inconceivable that Luiz put the ball in the net. One angle made it look as if it might have made contact - but only in the sense that it could have ricocheted in off his elbow.

It's possible that some as-yet-unseen picture or footage will prove The Rip Report wrong. If that happens, we'll hold up our hands and admit our mistake. But until then, we're remaining convinced that the ball was put in the net by Jara - whose misery was compounded later in the match when he hit the post in the penalty shoot-0ut.

That will leave Luiz with a new decision to make after the match: will he admit he didn't touch the ball? Or will he insist that he did guide it in, and therefore open himself up to the suggestion that it was handball and should never have stood?

He wouldn't do that, of course. A South American at a World Cup getting away with a handball goal? It could never happen... Well, not twice anyway. Though that's what people said when Luis Suarez first bit an opponent.

Justice will probably prevail, however, and Jara's name will probably go down in history as the scorer of the opening goal, and the fifth own goal of Brazil 2014.

Not that Luiz will care too much - one way or another Brazil made it through. Just. And the 202 million inhabitants of Brazil will be desperately praying that their luck - just like that of Luiz - keeps holding out.

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