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Blatant N’Gog Dive Rescues Liverpool, Angers Birmingham


Another day, another dive. With a stilted Liverpool trailing a frisky Birmingham City at Anfield late, David N’Gog (pronounced like “own goal”) sensationally split two defenders while charging in from the left. N’Gog then almost blew past Lee Carsley, but Carsley slid towards him, grazing the ball while managing to avoid any contact. N’Gog leapt, then dived harder than Greg Louganis. Referee Peter Walton pointed to the spot. Moments later Steven Gerrard slotted home to the left, sealing the draw for the unjustly enriched Reds. 

A calmer head might argue that sometimes even the slightest disturbance can send a player who is sprinting at full speed flailing to the ground. N’gog’s tumble may indeed have been genuine. All the same, Carsley appears to have played the ball rather than the player and timed his challenge perfectly

Former referee Graham Poll, writing in the Daily Mail, argues the bad call may have been averted had an additional assistant ref been present behind the goal as is currently being tested in the Europa League. Perhaps Monday’s controversy will aid the arrival of such assistants in the Premier League in the near future.

In the new book, Soccernomics (U.S. title), Simon Kuper and Stefan Szymanski argue that on average, penalties do “not make it any more likely that home teams or away teams or favorites or underdogs win.” Unfortunately, Brummies, like most supporters, do not think in terms of “on average,” and will rue the missed chance to claim their first victory at Anfield since 2004.

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  1. eplmatches

    November 13, 2009 at 4:01 am

    this diving shud be punished even after the match, thats the only solution i cud find.

    This uy shud be banned for 5 games as a warning to all divers!

  2. Jorge Curioso

    November 12, 2009 at 6:14 am

    I challenge all the one-eyed Liverpudlians to find one single instance where Cristiano Ronaldo dove even remotely as cheatingly as Ngog.

    There was always contact when Cristiano went to ground.

    Unlike, say, Slip-N-Fall Stevie Me.

  3. AJ

    November 11, 2009 at 8:27 pm

    I’m not a Birmingham fan but when that penalty was awarded my can of soda pop promptly went flying across the room into the door going everywhere. It was an outrage. I actually called that with no one in the rooom.

    As soon as Gerrard came on I thought in the back of my head “He’s gonna go for a swim and steal this from the Brum.”

    Unfortunately, I didn’t get it completely right. N’Gog went for the swim.

    Can we blame him though? A few theories:

    #1: N’Gog knew from the several balls he failed to connect with from Gerrard that we’d say he’s not up to the task. He’s not a big four, world-beating, forward. So he knews that’s the only way he’d be able to save the point.

    #2: Peter Walton really can’t officiate and just assumed there was contact
    “Assume” being the bad word. We try not to use that word in our house since nothing is predictable

    One final note: Did anyone notice how long it took the idiot in black to award the penalty?

  4. Gaz

    November 11, 2009 at 12:46 pm

    The only excuse I have is what I said above. Contact would have occurred and he would have awarded a fair penalty.

    So why not just stay on your ‘effing feet and let the contact come! Crusty got it right above – he should have just kept playing the ball and let the contact come (like Bent did).

    A lot of people point to other players that may be perceived as divers but what they do is totally different (apart from Ronaldo – he was and always will be the quintessential diver). You know contact is coming and when it does you let it be seen that it impeded your run. This is not the same as throwing your body to the ground without any contact at all.

    The worst part is that he was looking so good in the first half. He even got a goal that Torres would be proud of.

    I gave one excuse above but, to be honest, there is no excuse for it. It’s a disgrace when any player does it – makes it even worse when it’s your boys.

  5. coachie ballgames

    November 10, 2009 at 11:34 pm

    thanks b.
    Eric, you are right, Liverpool dominated play in the second half, but they only scored one real goal. Sunderland played wonderfully against Tottenham Saturday, often dominating that game, but walked off with no points.

  6. Eric

    November 10, 2009 at 9:19 pm

    Dive or no dive, this article makes it seems like Liverpool’s play didn’t deserve a point. They thrashed Birmingham all night and their play merited three points.

    • b

      November 10, 2009 at 11:26 pm

      except for the part where they only scored one real goal.

      so their play merited zero points. because, you know, they should have lost.

      • Justin

        November 11, 2009 at 3:15 am

        I think you’ll find they scored 2 real goals. Check out the BBC, Daily Mail, Telegraph websites, FA records, Birmingham City website, they all say LFC scored 2 goals. Check out the league table, they got a point 😉

        • b

          November 11, 2009 at 9:08 am

          i have checked the interwebs, and it appears you are correct. blast!

          now as to whether they “deserved” or “merited” three points, i’m still on “no.”

          to badly paraphrase one wiser than me “do or do not, there is no merited.”

    • Melanie

      November 11, 2009 at 4:11 pm

      Were you watching a different game? Liverpool did not “thrash” anybody”.

  7. AtlantaPompey

    November 10, 2009 at 6:16 pm

    No contact was made between Carsley and Ngog. Ngog clearly pulled one foot back in an effort to make it look like contact was made, fell to the ground, and was awarded the penalty. Multiple replays from multiple angles showed the same thing. This was no penalty. There was absolutely no reason for Ngog to go to ground.

  8. ovalball

    November 10, 2009 at 4:31 pm

    “Carsley missed the ball…and impeded Ngog’s progress towards goal…absolutely a clear pk!”

    Not in any rule book with which I am familiar. The ref was snookered, plain and simple.

  9. scott

    November 10, 2009 at 4:10 pm

    Um, how do you say “biased” in the Queen’s English…is it different than here in the States?

    Carsley missed the ball…and impeded Ngog’s progress towards goal…absolutely a clear pk!

    • Richard

      November 10, 2009 at 7:33 pm


  10. oliver

    November 10, 2009 at 3:57 pm

    anyone know why Ngog was booked?

    • b

      November 10, 2009 at 4:05 pm

      seemed like the ref booked him and carsley when the latter came over and lectured the young lad on being a cheat.

      great quote from carsley:
      “I’m sure he (Ngog) has got a family, well if I went home having done that I’d be embarrassed.”

      • oliver

        November 10, 2009 at 4:17 pm

        so the ref booked Ngog for diving *and* Carsley for a dangerous tackle? Can’t ever remember seeing that

        • b

          November 10, 2009 at 6:45 pm

          sorry, i was unclear. ngog and carsley got booked for their arguing after the call was made. the players were starting to huddle up and push and shove a bit, so i think the ref just gave them both a card to punish both teams for the extra stuff. it was pretty odd. but it wasn’t a card for diving.

          • oliver

            November 11, 2009 at 8:34 am

            thanks for the clarification

  11. NoWay

    November 10, 2009 at 2:07 pm

    I agree about the double standard. I’d rather look more at solutions to a grand problem than focus on the latest incident from the latest team and the latest player.

    • b

      November 10, 2009 at 2:49 pm

      what’s the double standard? when eduardo dove, people called for his head. when n’gog dove…people wrote articles about steven gerrard saving the team.

      • NoWay

        November 10, 2009 at 3:49 pm

        and what about Ronaldo? He did this on a weekly basis and still continues to be rewarded for it.

        I don’t care specifically about Eduardo or N’gog or any one particular instance. I care about a solution to the overall problem.

        Just once, I would like to see a situation where a phantom penalty is called, and the rewarded team has the decency to admit that it was not a penalty and purposely tap the ball to the goalkeeper. It would have to be the result of a player who thought he was going to be taken down but the play resulted in no contact. How awesome would it be to see that type of fair play in a game?

        Hypothetically, imagine if N’gog “thought” he was going to get contact and didn’t but went down and got the call. If the players policed themselves, he would either have to tell the official that he doesn’t accept the penalty (which probably wouldn’t matter) or he would have to step up and agree to NOT score and be rewarded for the mistake.

        I know I’m dreaming, but that would probably be the type of thing that happened in a pickup game or something.

        • b

          November 10, 2009 at 4:03 pm

          that would indeed be great.
          i did see one match where a guy went down in the box and immediately got up and waved to the ref not to call a penalty. i feel like this was actually arshavin in a russia match, but i could be imagining that.
          not sure if the ref was going to call the penalty, but interesting that it happened.

          • SeminoleGunner

            November 11, 2009 at 7:52 am

            Arshavin appeared to do that against Portsmouth last season. I was never quite sure what he was signaling.

  12. Crusty

    November 10, 2009 at 1:59 pm

    Just a thought, had N’Gog not jumped into the air to avoid Carley’s outsretched leg, he would have been brought down – clear penalty as no contact was made with the ball. The lesson? Don’t jump to avoid the leg, carry on running and wait for the contact.

  13. Justin

    November 10, 2009 at 1:47 pm

    I by no means condone N’gog’s dive, but the double standard here is ridiculous.

  14. PhillySpur

    November 10, 2009 at 1:35 pm

    Saying everyone is doing it is not a valid defense. There’s no excuse for what he did. Cheating is cheating. I agree with Fred, all divers need to be banned for 3 games.

  15. Matthew N

    November 10, 2009 at 1:18 pm

    Look at all these haters. It is okay when your team does it, but by god Liverpool had better not!!!

    (not defending his actions.. just saying that it isn’t like this is a unique situation… people only care because they want LFC to fail)

  16. eric

    November 10, 2009 at 12:57 pm

    if anyone is to blame here it’s the referees. they consistently make similar calls when players flop and flail throughout the field. if a player gets the call at midfield, what should keep him from doing the same thing in the box? maybe they should actually let the boys play the game like we do here in the states.

    • b

      November 10, 2009 at 2:51 pm

      damn those referees! here n’gog is, just trying to play a fair match, when along comes an evil referee and forces him to dive!

  17. FredtheRed

    November 10, 2009 at 11:40 am

    Another blatant cheating episode from Anfield. No doubt, the balanced Ethan will give us his usual unbiased opinion.
    All divers should be banned for 3 games and ironically wasn’t it odd that Benitez should have said the referee needed glasses last night rather than the first game of the season.
    Liverpool can’t even beat Birmingham City at home, that is a sad indictment of the squad. It isn’t good enough to finish in the top 6.
    I hope City massacre them next game and I never thought I’d say that.

  18. nothap'n

    November 10, 2009 at 11:07 am

    Did this same post occur after every Ronaldo dive over the last few seasons?

    A dive is a dive, but how is N’gog any worse than the dives we have seen so far this season from Eduardo, Rooney, Drogba, and Bent (last weekend)?

    The key should be to focus on a way to get rid of this type of thing. Starting with having a referee who can be in a position to call it as it was yesterday.

    • b

      November 10, 2009 at 1:23 pm

      it’s worse than rooney and bent because at least those two had the good sense to throw themselves down while dragging their feet across the keeper, thus making contact and making it appear as though said contact caused them to fall.

      so n’gog is actually worse at cheating than rooney and bent. but i’m sure he’ll have plenty of time to learn.

  19. Zola612

    November 10, 2009 at 11:03 am

    Can’t wait to see that. I surfed here earlier this morning looking for it, just to see how the issue is handled (or mishandled). Prove me wrong EA.

  20. Richard

    November 10, 2009 at 10:49 am

    For the first time ever I’m looking forward to Ethan Armstrong’s fan diary.

  21. ovalball

    November 10, 2009 at 10:36 am

    That dive was disgraceful. You can only hope Birmingham doesn’t need those two points come the end of the season.

  22. Ryan

    November 10, 2009 at 10:12 am

    It’s a shame since it took 2 pts away from Birmingham’s great effort. Just another reason to hate Liverpool….

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