Blackburn Rovers 0 Everton 0: Flag denies Johnson decisive blow in battle of stifled ambitions
Managers puzzled as offside call leaves cagey contest level
Sunday 03 February 2008
With European ambitions in common, Blackburn and Ever-ton might reasonably conclude that a point each from a typically robust confrontation was a just outcome had not Everton suffered through the kind of disallowed goal that illustrates how confusion still reigns over the offside law.
It came five minutes from the end at the breakdown of a Blackburn attack when Everton's goalkeeper Tim Howard, spotting the chance of a counter-attack, punted a long ball into the Blackburn half which was won in the air by the Everton substitute, James Vaughan.
He carried the ball forward, withstood an attempted tackle by Blackburn's goalkeeper Brad Friedel and scooped it across to Andrew Johnson, who went past Zurab Khizanishvili and rolled the ball into the net. With two other defenders close by, Johnson seemed to be onside yet the linesman's flag was raised, suggesting that the striker had been in an offside position before he became active.
That was the way Mark Hughes, the Blackburn manager, interpreted the decision. Yet, according to David Moyes, who had spoken to the referee's assistant, Johnson was deemed to have been offside when he collected Vaughan's pass, in which case the Everton manager's self-restraint when offered the chance to give vent to his annoyance was extraordinary.
"It was onside," Moyes said. "A minimum of two Blackburn players, maybe three, maybe even four, including the goalkeeper, played Andrew on. It was a poor decision but I said after the [Merseyside] derby that we would not criticise referees, that we are going to have to play well enough that we don't rely on decisions. I just hope this one is not crucial."
If he was bemused, then so too was Hughes. "It is just too much of a grey area," he said. "First phase, second phase, is he active, isn't he active – it just makes it difficult for referees and officials and frustrating for managers. Where are we going with it? It is just a crazy rule."
At least the incident created a talking point after a cagy contest in which referee Alan Wiley booked six players.
In the first half, in particular, scoring opportunities were thin on the ground. Roque Santa Cruz, initially alone up front for Blackburn, went close with a header in only the second minute but it was not until the 27th minute that Mikel Arteta managed the first shot from either side.
There was no Everton debut for defender Anthony Gardner, their late deadline-day capture from Tottenham, because of an ankle injury but Moyes's team are coping admirably in any event without Joseph Yobo, who is at the African Cup of Nations with Nigeria.
His stand-in, Phil Jagielka, looks more at home in his centre-back role with each game. He almost made his mark at the other end, just before half-time, his header from an Arteta corner being cleared off the line by David Dunn.
The second half began with both goalkeepers tested, Howard pushing a low, hard shot by David Bentley around his left-hand post, then Friedel denying Manuel Fernandes with a charging block when, one-on-one, the Portugal international should have scored. He almost did a few minutes later when his curling free-kick hit an upright.
Blackburn, better once Benni McCarthy had been sent on to support Santa Cruz, were stronger at the finish. McCarthy looked to have the goal at his mercy following a one-two with his strike partner only for Jagielka to hurry him into a weak finish, then only the flailing fist of Howard kept out Bentley's dangerously swerving free-kick.
Latest in Sport
Andy Murray tells how coach Amélie Mauresmo revealed her pregnancy
Floyd Mayweather vs Manny Pacquiao: The biggest fight of all time, or maybe just the most lucrative?
What time does Floyd Mayweather vs Manny Pacquiao start?
Everton 3 Manchester United 0 player ratings: Who scored lower - Marouane Fellaini or Radamel Falcao?
Floyd Mayweather vs Manny Pacquiao: What time does it start and where can I watch it?
- 1 Migrant crisis: Greek soldier saved 20 people singlehandedly off Rhodes beach
- 2 Sofyen Belamouadden murder: The inside story of a crime that horrified Britain
- 3 Company breaks open Apple Watch to discover what it says is 'planned obsolescence'
- 5 UK weather: Britain braced for snow as arctic air mass moves in
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
The sickening truth about food banks that the Tories don't want you to know
Migrant boat disaster: Ukip candidate mocks victims in sickening Twitter post
Nigel Farage wants the BBC to stop making programmes like Doctor Who, Strictly Come Dancing, and Top Gear
Global warming: Scientists say temperatures could rise by 6C by 2100 and call for action ahead of UN meeting in Paris
General Election 2015: Britain would become a 'communist dictatorship' under Ed Miliband and Nicola Sturgeon, claims wife of Michael Gove