Gary Lineker blasts ‘ridiculous’ law after Man Utd concede controversial FA Cup goal


Gary Lineker has branded the handball rule “ridiculous” after Middlesbrough scored a controversial equaliser in their win over Manchester United in the FA Cup on Friday night.

Duncan Watmore set up Matt Crooks to score in the second half and the goal was allowed to stand by VAR, despite the ball clearly striking Watmore’s hand.

Boro went on to win 8-7 on penalties to dump United out in the fourth round tie at Old Trafford after the game finished 1-1 following 120 minutes of action.

Jadon Sancho had given United the lead after 20 minutes, but Ralf Rangnick’s side failed to build on it with Cristiano Ronaldo missing a penalty, while Sancho and Bruno Fernandes both spurned good chances.

The hosts had another gilt-edged chance to win it after Crooks’ 64-minute leveller, with Fernandes somehow conspiring to miss a near open goal.

Gary Lineker
Gary Lineker criticised the current handball rule

His error and United’s subsequent defeat on penalties after Anthony Elanga’s miss meant the focus turned to the Watmore handball that wasn’t.

“The right decision given the absurdity of the law,” Lineker wrote on Twitter.

“Clearly accidental but If he’d scored himself it would have been disallowed. The handball law used to be fine. They’ve made it ridiculous.”

Speaking after the dramatic win, Boro striker Watmore said the handball was unintentional.

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Duncan Watmore of Middlesbrough controls the ball before team mate Matt Crooks scores during the Emirates FA Cup Fourth Round match between Manchester United and Middlesbrough
Duncan Watmore set up Matt Crooks’ equaliser

“I mean, if I am honest, it was completely accidental,” he told ITV Sport. “I know it obviously touched my hand, but it was not intended at all.

“I was hoping it wouldn’t be, and wasn’t expecting it, but obviously I’ll have to see it back, but it didn’t feel like it at the time.”

The goal stood because of a recent law change by governing body IFAB which means that accidental attacking handballs cannot be given, unless they are committed by the goal scorer.

To have been ruled out by VAR, Watmore’s handball would have had to have been deliberate, or his arm position deemed not to have been justifiable by his movement.