With Tottenham Hotspur falling to a 2-0 defeat to Liverpool in last weekend’s Champions League Final out in Madrid, every man/women and their dog/cat has had their say on the penalty award seconds into the first half.
As everyone knows, Moussa Sissoko was punished for armpit-ball as Sadio Mane delivered into the penalty box and even with the supposed advantage of Video Assistant Referee technology, bizarrely the decision to award a spot-kick was upheld.
People are split on this, but let’s face it, it was never a penalty in a month of Sunday’s but with some even going as far as saying Mane aimed for his aim, we can thank former Wales and Liverpool striker Dean Saunders for adding some sense to the debate as he spoke to Talksport recently.
“Obviously I don’t want to take anything away from Liverpool, I wanted them to win the game, but I can’t believe anybody thinks it was a penalty. For a start, ‘an unnatural position of your arm’, this law, they’ve got to bin it. You use your arms in a natural position to do different things when you’re defending.”
Saunders goes on to say it’s abundantly obvious that Sissoko is given Trippier instruction and that’s a perfectly natural position for an arm to be in during the game.
“That’s the way you communicate sometimes as footballers. He’s put his arm up in the box to point at Trippier, so his arm is in a natural position to do that. Number two, the ball hasn’t even hit his arm! It’s hit his chest and rolled onto his arm – so how is that a penalty? Unless you’ve got blind loyalty, I don’t think any Liverpool fan if they were a neutral on a Sunday morning would say that’s a penalty. That was never a penalty.”
Now I’m not going to deny Saunders has a mixed record as a pundit given some of his claims and opinions, but he’s got this one spot on for me when it comes to Sissoko’s arm, and even then as you watch, you can see him clearly trying to get his arm back alongside his body anyway, so under the current rules that should never have been awarded.
With a change next season to accidental handballs to try and create some more consistency, we can see how messed up that rule tweak makes the game in the future.