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‘Huge advantage’ – Howard Webb admits Liverpool cost by controversial VAR call in title boost to Man City

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Howard Webb addressed a controversial call that went against Liverpool in the Premier League last month.

PGMOL chief Howard Webb admitted Liverpool should have been awarded a penalty in their 1-1 draw with Arsenal at Anfield last month after Martin Odegaard escaped punishment for a handball inside the 18-yard box.

Mohamed Salah’s attempted flick around the Gunners midfielder was handled by the Norwegian close to the floor with referee Chris Kavanagh insisting a penalty would not be awarded as the Arsenal man’s hand was on the ground. VAR reviewed the decision and supported the on-field call, despite evidence of Odegaard moving the ball towards himself with his arm which allowed him to clear any danger.

Now Webb has admitted the wrong decision was made, as Liverpool settled for a point. Speaking on Match Officials Mic’d Up, Webb stated: “The game expects a penalty in this situation. I would agree.

“The referee on the field recognised that Odegaard had slipped and saw his arm go towards the ground. This is not just Odegaard accidentally falling on to the ball. He does slip, his arm does go out, but he actually pulls his arm back in towards his body, which is when the ball makes contact with the arm.

“The VAR looked at that aspect. He felt it was a case of Odegaard trying to make himself actually smaller by bringing the arm back towards the body. That is the element that’s important here. Whether it’s instinctive or deliberate, he gets a huge advantage by bringing the arm back towards the ball. All the feedback we got afterwards was very clear. This is one that didn’t reach the right outcome on that basis.”

It is not the first time the PGMOL has admitted a major mistake in a Liverpool game. Luis Diaz had a legitimate goal ruled out for offside against Tottenham Hotspur with VAR wrongly confirming the on-field decision despite clear evidence the Reds forward was onside.

It is another frustrating incident for Jurgen Klopp’s side, who may have held a greater lead over Manchester City in the Premier League title race if the correct calls had been made, as they picked up a point against Arsenal and were beaten 2-1 at Spurs. It remains to be seen how big an impact the decisions will have come the end of the campaign with just two points between Liverpool and last season’s champions with both sides having played 20 games.

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