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Gabriel Martinelli's opening goal for Arsenal against Liverpool was allowed to stand because of a VAR loophole

Ryan Sidle

| Last updated 

Gabriel Martinelli's opening goal for Arsenal against Liverpool was allowed to stand because of a VAR loophole

Arsenal benefited from a loophole to avoid VAR disallowing their opening goal against Liverpool for offside, with Gabriel Martinelli's first-minute goal able to stand as a result.

The Gunners secured a huge win over Jurgen Klopp's side on Sunday, with Martinelli opening the scoring very early on, before huge controversy followed later in the game, with two penalty calls going in the home side's favour.

However, there were also serious questions about the decision to allow the first goal of the afternoon, with Bukayo Saka looking like he may have been offside in the build-up to Martinelli's opener.


There was no flag from the assistant referee and no check from VAR, with the decision to award the goal given almost instantly and not overturned.

Now it's been revealed, via multiple reports, that Saka's positioning meant he could not actually be picked up on any of the cameras which allow lines to be drawn on the pitch, meaning there was no formal check whether or not he was onside.

The problem arose because none of the five cameras had an angle to pick up both the England star and defender Ben White, who made the pass, at the same time.

That made it impossible to check if the 21-year-old had gone beyond the final defender when White played the ball, and so the officials had to stick with the on-field decision.

Martinelli celebrates his goal. Image: Alamy
Martinelli celebrates his goal. Image: Alamy

Only a camera on the halfway line could pick both players up, but that isn't one of the cameras that is used to pick up offsides, so no lines could have been drawn.

VAR referee Darren England did look at the other five angles but as he couldn't pick up both players he had to stick with the on-field decision.

It's a great example of why the on-pitch officials can't use the video system as a crutch in order to make a decision, in case the technology isn't working, or at least not properly.

The news will come as further annoyance to Jurgen Klopp and his team, after two other penalty decisions went against them, one they claimed for themselves and one that Arsenal got in their favour to help decide the game.

Gabriel looked to have handled the ball in the first half, with the score at 1-0, before Saka slotted home the winning penalty after Thiago was adjudged to have fouled Gabriel Jesus.

Speaking after the game, Klopp said, "It was an open game, it could have gone in either direction, and then this situation around the penalty.

"We should have sorted it already four times before, kick the ball as far as you can, whatever, but we didn’t do that. And then I think if it’s a penalty, it’s a very, very soft one.

"Like the whole situation, when you see the contact, I don’t even know if there is really contact.

"When Gabriel Jesus is going down there is like a bit of a delay, so it was not 'bang' and straight down.

"But [the VAR] Mr England thought it was not worth sending the ref to the screen. We cannot change that.

"He saw that slightly differently in the first half when obviously Diogo [Jota] wanted to cross the ball – not the hardest cross obviously – and Gabriel’s hand was not in a natural position, I would say.

"So we cannot change that, we take it all, we know we should have played more especially in the second half but when it’s against a team like Arsenal in a moment where a lot of things are just going their way.

"The two massive injury blows for us at half-time, or before half-time, with Luis [Diaz] and Trent [Alexander-Arnold] as well. They were really tough – tough afternoon."

There was yet more controversy during the game, when Jordan Henderson and Gabriel got into a heated conversation on the pitch following the decision to award Saka's match-winning penalty, which the FA are now investigating with both players asked to give their respective accounts of events.

Featured Image Credit: Sky Sports

Topics: Bukayo Saka, Gabriel Martinelli, VAR, Arsenal, Liverpool, Premier League

Ryan Sidle
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