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Did Nani Cheat With His Controversial Goal Against Spurs? (Video)

On Saturday, Manchester United’s Nani scored a goal against Tottenham Hotspur which was extremely controversial and will be the topic of many conversations over the next few days. Looking at it again and again, the goal was a result of poor sportsmanship by Nani and a mix-up in communication between Spurs goalkeeper Heurehlo Gomes and the referee and assistant referee.

The incident happened after Nani made a run inside the Tottenham box late in the second half. There was minimal contact on Nani but he continued to run into the box and then dived to the ground and handled the ball. At this point, it appeared that Gomes believed that a free kick had been awarded to Spurs, so as he prepared to take it and waited for his players to get into permission, Nani ran near the ball and poked it past Gomes into the net. Nani celebrated in front of the Stretford End as Clattenburg ran over to his assistant to discuss the incident. After a brief discussion, the goal was awarded to Manchester United. And the Tottenham players went berserk, surrounding the referee and assistant referee in complete disbelief that the goal had been given.

The goal was legitimate but a cheap one. Nani shouldn’t have dived in the box in the first place. And second, a free kick should have been given for Nani’s hand ball. Then Gomes made the mistake of misunderstanding what call the referee had made. To make matters worse, Nani was unsportsmanlike to kick the ball into the net. Sure, the ball was live but it was a cheap goal made even cheaper after his ridiculous dive in the box and hand ball just seconds earlier.

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson blamed the incident on Gomes by saying,

“You can look at the referee and look at the linesmen and blame them, but the goalkeeper should know better. He’s an experienced goalkeeper. I thought he made a mess of it. The referee played on because the goalkeeper took possession of the ball. He then went to take a free-kick thinking it was a foul. He made an error.”

And, not surprisingly, Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp saw it the other way around:

“It was handball. He put his hand on the ball and dragged it down. He should have been booked. The referee didn’t see him handball it, that’s why he’s allowed play to go on. The assistant referee has seen it, that’s why he’s flagged. He’s handled the ball. If he’s handled the ball he should be booked and it’s a free-kick. Gomes puts the ball down to take a free-kick. It’s obvious. Why would he stand there and leave the ball there after he saw him handball it?”

What do you think? Did Nani cheat? Should he have exercised better sportsmanship? Should the goal have stood? Who was right, Ferguson or Redknapp? Share your opinion in the comments section below.


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About Christopher Harris

Founder and publisher of World Soccer Talk, Christopher Harris is the managing editor of the site. He has been interviewed by The New York Times, The Guardian and several other publications. Plus he has made appearances on NPR, BBC World, CBC, BBC Five Live, talkSPORT and beIN SPORT. Harris, who has lived in Florida since 1984, has supported Swansea City since 1979. He's also an expert on soccer in South Florida, and got engaged during half-time of a MLS game. Harris launched EPL Talk in 2005, which was rebranded as World Soccer Talk in 2013.
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