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Football laws suggest Marcus Rashford's goal against Man City should not have stood, there's so much confusion

Jack Kenmare

| Last updated 

Football laws suggest Marcus Rashford's goal against Man City should not have stood, there's so much confusion

It is, without doubt, the main topic of debate from Saturday's Manchester derby – should Bruno Fernandes' equaliser have stood?

In the 78th minute at Old Trafford, the Portuguese midfielder converted past Ederson with a cool finish. But the goal was shrouded in controversy after many deemed Rashford to be interfering with play.

The England international did not touch the ball after clearly coming from an offside position, but some were convinced that he played a part by obstructing City's defence before Fernandes fired home.

In fact, former Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech took to social media after the full-time whistle to give his opinion on the incident. He wrote: "The first United goal just proved the people who make the rules don’t understand the game."


After the linesman initially ruled out the strike for offside, VAR was consulted and referee Stuart Attwell awarded the goal.

So what do the laws say about Rashford's involvement in the goal?

According to FIFA, a player is actively interfering with play if they touch the ball after it has been passed to them by a teammate.


However, a player can also influence play without touching the ball, and so should be given offside if the referee feels that their offside position has interfered with an opponent – for example by preventing the opponent from playing the ball or by obstructing a goalkeeper’s line of vision.

The IFAB Laws of the Game handbook also explains:

  • a player moving from, or standing in, an offside position is in the way of an opponent and interferes with the movement of the opponent towards the ball this is an offside offence if it impacts on the ability of the opponent to play or challenge for the ball; if the player moves into the way of an opponent and impedes the opponent's progress (e.g blocks the opponent) the offence should be penalised under Law 12.

It also says the following:


“A player in an offside position at the moment the ball is played or touched by a team-mate is only penalised on becoming involved in active play by:

  • interfering with play by playing or touching a ball passed or touched by a team-mate or
  • interfering with an opponent by:
  • preventing an opponent from playing or being able to play the ball by clearly obstructing the opponent’s line of vision or
  • challenging an opponent for the ball or
  • clearly attempting to play a ball which is close when this action impacts on an opponent or
  • making an obvious action which clearly impacts on the ability of an opponent to play the ball


  • gaining an advantage by playing the ball or interfering with an opponent when it has:
  • rebounded or been deflected off the goalpost, crossbar or an opponent
  • been deliberately saved by any opponent”

That being said, VAR Michael Oliver believed Rashford had not interfered in play enough to disallow the goal, and therefore allowed it to stand.

If you look back at the clip, no City defenders were in a position to touch the ball and divert it away from Fernandes when he hit the shot.

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola felt the goal should not have stood. In his post-match interview with BT Sport, the Spaniard said: "Rashford was offside. He distracted our keeper and defenders."


Bruno Fernandes also commented on the incident, saying: "I think because I was facing the goal, Marcus thought I was in a better position.

"I didn't know if any of us were offside or not, but it didn't make a difference because no one was close to him, so the team [Man City] has to defend. The only one close was one close to me."

Here's how social media reacted to the incident.

One fan said: "I genuinely have no idea what the offside law is anymore if Rashford is deemed neither to have to interfered with play nor his actions impact upon a defender."

A second wrote: "Regardless of the decision - which was wrong IMO - the law itself is a joke. Rashford clearly gains an advantage from being offside and the goal springs from that advantage. IFAB need to get on with that review of offside."

A third commented: "Walker and Akanji slow down because of Rashford being in the way. Rashford is off side. SHOCKING decision."

Thoughts on the call?

Let us know in the comments.

Featured Image Credit: BT Sport

Topics: Marcus Rashford, Manchester City, Manchester United, Bruno Fernandes

Jack Kenmare
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