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Why McTominay's goal for Man Utd at Fulham was overturned for offside

4 Nov 2023
Fulham FC v Manchester United - Scott McTominay

Ex-Premier League referee Dermot Gallagher explains why Harry Maguire was ruled offside in the build-up at Craven Cottage

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In the Fulham v Manchester United match at Craven Cottage, Scott McTominay scored in the eighth minute what was initially awarded as a goal but was later overturned by the referee John Brooks after a VAR review. 

Here we analyse what happened and why. 

What happened? 
In the eighth minute, Christian Eriksen curls a free-kick to the far post, where Alejandro Garnacho squares the ball to Scott McTominay, who finishes at close range to score a goal.

What the match officials did
A VAR review identifies that Harry Maguire was in an offside position and made a clear attempt to reach Eriksen’s free-kick.

Brooks is advised by the VAR, Jarred Gillett, to go to the Referee Review Area; as this is a subjective offside the final decision has to be made by the referee. Brooks reviews the footage and correctly overturns the goal for offside.

231104 Fulham vs Manchester United - Offside - Maguire
Harry Maguire (No 5) was deemed to be interfering with play from an offside position

Former Premier League referee Dermot Gallagher: “‘Subjective offside’ has got to be ruled by the referee. The ball’s come across and Maguire’s in an offside position - not an offence in itself, so the assistant has to see where it goes. 

“It goes to Garnacho, back to McTominay, in the net. The assistant doesn’t flag offside. The VAR looks.

“You can see Maguire without doubt, 100 per cent, goes to play the ball. He doesn’t get the ball, we know that, but he goes to play the ball and that’s one of the ticked boxes [for offside]: Does he challenge for the ball? Does he make a clear and obvious attempt to play the ball? He does.

231104 Fulham vs Manchester United - Offside - Maguire stretches for ball
Harry Maguire's stretch for the ball was deemed to be interfering with play

“There’s no doubt whatsoever about that. He’s clearly gone to play that ball, so therefore Sian Massey the AVAR, would have fed back to Jarred Gillett, the VAR, ‘In my opinion he’s clearly gone to play that ball.’

“Because it’s a subjective decision, the referee has to go to the screen. Does he impact? It’s got to be down to the referee’s decision. John Brooks goes to the screen, sees that image and disallows the goal. It’s 100 per cent correct in law.”

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