Top 6 ‘Ghost Goals’

Debate over whether goal-line technology should be introduced to the game is raging once again following the controversy in FA Cup semi-final between Tottenham and Chelsea on Sunday.

Television replays quickly indicated that Juan Mata’s shot at the start of the second half didn’t cross the line when it was bundled clear by Tottenham defender Benoit Assou-Ekotto, who was lying on the turf on the goal line in a scramble but the goal was awarded and it completely changed the game.

Mata’s strike is one of many goal disputes that have occurred down the years – many of which are now being used to fuel the calls for bringing in technology. With the use of a replay system looking like a real possibility in the near future, here are 8 examples of the recurring ‘ghost goal’ which could soon become a thing of the past.

1. Geoff Hurst – England v Germany, 1966 World Cup final

Debate over disputed goals has been raging for decades, with the most famous example one that effectively determined the outcome of a World Cup final. Geoff Hurst’s effort for England in the 1966 decider with Germany at Wembley arguably remains the ultimate goal-line controversy. After the Germans had equalised to send the game into extra-time at 2-2, Hurst fired a shot that smacked against the underside of the crossbar, rebounded down and bounced back out of the goalmouth. Swiss referee Gottfried Dienst consulted his linesman, Tofik Bakhramov, and the goal was given. The strike spurred the Three Lions to a 4-2 victory and their first, and only, major trophy.

2. Frank Lampard – England v Germany, 2010 World Cup

On 27 June 2010, England were playing Germany in the knockout round of the 2010 World Cup at Bloemfontein in South Africa. In the 38th minute, just 53 seconds after Matthew Upson had scored, Frank Lampard shot the ball and it hit the underside of the crossbar, resulting in it crossing the line into the goal and bouncing back into the field of play due to spin (without hitting the net). The goal was denied by the linesman. Had the goal been given, England would have drawn level at 2–2. Germany, where this goal was given names like “Wembley goal reloaded”, “inverted Wembley goal” or “revenge for Wembley”, went on to win the game 4–1.

3. Pedro Mendes – Manchester United v Tottenham, 2005 Premier League

Back in the days when Tottenham weren’t expected to beat any of the Top Four, Spurs were level at Old Trafford when Mendes tried an astonishing 45-yard lob that looped towards keeper Roy Carroll. The Northern Irish shot-stopper did what he does best and made a right pig’s ear of it, letting the ball squirm out of his grasp and over the line by a good few yards. Not in the mind of the referee however, who disallowed it, ensuring United held onto their point.

4. Sulley Muntari – AC Milan vs. Juventus, 2012 Serie A

Just to prove it isn’t only English officials who have an inability to see whether the ball goes over the line or not, Milan midfielder Sulley Muntari pops up with a header from approximately a yard out. Although Buffon makes a valiant attempt at palming the ball away from the line, it’s obvious to everyone else in the ground that Muntari has found the back of the net – except the one guy that matters..

5. Paddy Connolly – Dundee United v Partick Thistle, 1993 Scottish Premier League

In fairness, the Scottish league probably needs more incidents like this just to remind people that teams other than Rangers and Celtic compete. The officials on this day made one of the biggest goal-line cock-ups ever seen. Paddy Connolly of Dundee United thought he’d scored a routine goal from a corner, but once again, cracked the ball against our old friend the stanchion. Even better was the fact that the defender picked up the ball, passed it to his goalkeeper who booted it up field to prepare for the restart. No goal, but no handball either?

6. John Eustace (og.) – Watford vs. Reading, 2008 Championship

The ultimate ghost goal was awarded by the FA’s specially fast-tracked ref Stuart Attwell and almost destroyed what little reputation he had. A goalmouth scramble is always difficult to keep an eye on, but linesman Nigel Bannister decided a richochet off Watford captain John Eustace had gone in when, in fact, the ball did no such thing. It was a goal so ghostly, it positively glowed with ectoplasm..


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