Luis Suarez became embroiled in a new handball controversy on Sunday when he scored Liverpool’s winner in a 2-1 victory to oust non-league club Mansfield from the third round of the FA Cup.
After Daniel Sturridge put Liverpool ahead with a goal on debut in the first half, Suarez extended the lead in the 59th minute by bringing the ball down with his hand before kicking it into the net.
Despite Suarez looking uncomfortable after scoring, appearing to expect the goal to be ruled out, it was awarded and proved to be decisive following Matt Green’s later strike for Mansfield.
”There’s no doubt it was handball but the referee and the officials ruled it wasn’t deliberate,” Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers said. ”I spoke to the fourth official when it was given because I couldn’t see and he said it was (handball), so I can only assume they thought it wasn’t deliberate.”
And Rodgers said it wasn’t up to Suarez to ask the referee to rule his goal out.
”It’s up to the officials to decide that,” Rodgers said. ”That’s why they get paid as officials.”
The goal revived memories of the incident that overshadowed the Uruguay striker’s 2010 World Cup campaign. In that instance, he deliberately handled on the goal line to block Ghana from scoring and was sent off. Ghana missed the subsequent penalty, sparking celebrations by Suarez on the sideline, and Uruguay advanced to the semifinals.
While the Ghanaians were furious with Suarez, Mansfield was more accepting.
”I’d like to give the benefit of the doubt and say it’s a reaction,” manager Paul Cox said, adding: ”If it had gone in the other end and one of our players had done it I think we’d have accepted it.”
Sturridge scoring seven minutes into his first game since joining from Chelsea, the England striker racing onto Jonjo Shelvey’s through ball before slotting it into the net.
”It was a great debut with a great goal, you can see he has that bit of pace to get in behind,” Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher said.
Liverpool couldn’t extend its lead against fifth-tier opposition until Suarez’s contentious goal, and it was a nervy conclusion after Green powered in a late goal for Mansfield from Lee Beevers’ cutback.
Liverpool will play at third-tier club Oldham in the fourth round.