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Referee governing body admits ‘significant human error’ cost Liverpool goal in loss to Tottenham

The PGMOL admitted error following Liverpool's 2-1 defeat to Tottenham on a disputed Luis Diaz first-half goal. (Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images)
The PGMOL admitted error following Liverpool's 2-1 defeat to Tottenham on a disputed Luis Diaz first-half goal. (Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images)

The Professional Game Match Officials Limited, responsible for referees in English soccer, admitted a "significant human error" cost Liverpool a goal during their 2-1 defeat to Tottenham on Saturday.

Luis Diaz thought he had put Liverpool ahead 1-0 in the 34th minute after he pounced on a Mohamed Salah through ball but the linesman flagged the striker offside. A VAR check determined that the on-field decision was correct but a lack of offside lines shown on screen resulted in a quick review.

The PGMOL released a statement following the game admitting the error:

"PGMOL acknowledge a significant human error occurred during the first half of Tottenham Hotspur v Liverpool.

"The goal by Luis Diaz was disallowed for offside by the on-field team of match officials. This was a clear and obvious factual error and should have resulted in the goal being awarded through VAR intervention, however, the VAR failed to intervene. PGMOL will conduct a full review into the circumstances which led to the error."

According to ESPN's Dale Johnson, the VAR believed Diaz's goal had actually counted.

The VAR Darren England incorrectly thought the onfield decision was "goal," quickly identified that Díaz was onside and told the onfield team "check complete" to confirm the goal. But when referee Simon Hooper was told this, he understood the decision made by the assistant as being correct.

That meant that rather than the decision being changed to goal, it remained disallowed.

Liverpool, already playing with 10 men following a Curtis Jones red card, would go down to nine players after Diogo Jota was sent off in the 69th minute after receiving his second yellow card of the match. An own goal by Joel Matip in the 96th minute would give Tottenham all three points.

When the PGMOL statement was read to Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp during his post-match news conference he responded by saying, "Who does that help now? We had the situation in the Manchester United game [on Aug. 14 vs. Wolves]. Did they get points for it? It doesn't help.

"Nobody expects 100 percent right decisions, but we all thought when VAR comes in it might make things easier. The decision was made really quick for that goal and it changed the momentum of the game."

Tottenham manager Ange Postecoglou said afterward, "If it happened to us, I would probably be frustrated too, but it's got nothing to do with us. We've got to deal with what's in front of us. From our perspective it's about concentrating on the things we can control and that's got nothing to do with us."

On VAR in general, Postecoglou added:

"I've never really been a fan of it. It complicates areas of the game that I thought were pretty clear in the past. We have to deal with it.

"The biggest problem we have is that no form of technology will make the game errorless. We always accepted that mistakes were part of the game, people are human beings, but many parts of out game aren't factual so officials will make mistakes the same as players and managers make mistakes. If we have such a high bar, invariably it's going to fail."

The defeat leaves Liverpool fourth in the Premier League table with 16 points. Tottenham's win puts them 5-1-1 through seven matches and one point behind leaders Manchester City, who lost 2-1 to Wolves.