Man United score free kick goal with help of questionable ‘faux wall’

Was this Juan Mata goal legal? 

At first glance, it looks like a wonderfully cheeky goal from Manchester United, their second of Monday’s FA Cup tie against League One minnows Shrewsbury Town.

But about that fake three-man wall in offside position… was that within the rules of the game, or should the goal have been disallowed? 

At halftime, FOX Soccer’s resident goalkeeping expert Brad Friedel adamantly argued for the latter, explaining that the faux wall blocked goalkeeper Jayson Leutwilers’ line of sight, thus never allowing him to be able to react to Mata’s brilliant strike. Take another look:

According to the laws of the game, "a player in an offside position is only penalized if, at the moment the ball touches or is played by one of his team, he is, in the opinion of the referee, involved in active play by interfering with an opponent or gaining an advantage by being in that position."

Verdict: Mata’s strike probably would have gone in regardless, but it sure looks like those Red Devils gained an advantage and got away with it.

Given United’s well-documented goalscoring woes this season, don’t be surprised if they test the referees again in the next game!