Mohamed Salah fired two penalties to ensure Liverpool beat Leeds United 4-3 – but Keith Hackett said referee Michael Oliver made the wrong call on the first one.
Salah gave Jurgen Klopp’s side the lead from the spot just four minutes into their Premier League title defence after Oliver penalised Robin Koch for handball.
But Sky Sports pundit Jamie Carragher reckoned the penalty shouldn’t have been given – and respected former referee Hackett agreed with the ex-Liverpool defender.
“The referee has one look and was quick to award a penalty kick,” Hackett told Caught Offside. “He was in a great position with a good viewing angle.”
Hackett said the decision was incorrect because he believes Koch was trying to move his arm away from the ball – and because it bounced up off the defender’s knee.
“It is a subjective decision but in my opinion the outcome was incorrect,” said the 76-year-old.
“For me I believe that the defender’s hand arm did not move towards the ball – it was accidental.
“The ball in fact struck the defender’s knee before bouncing up and striking the underside of his arm. The defender was clearly attempting to retract his arm.”
Hackett added: “The offence of handball where a defender is concerned has to be deliberate with movement towards the ball and making the body larger than his silhouette.
“The law states that it is not an offence when the ball touches a players hand/arm directly from the players own head or body ( including the foot) in this situation.”
According to the IFAB – the body which governs the laws of the game – “it is not an offence if the ball touches a player’s hand/arm… directly from the player’s own head or body (including the foot).”
Hackett described the rule as “a poor law”, saying it created discrepancies between attacking and defending players.
He said: “The law of course takes a different view if this had been an attacking player and a goal had resulted directly from the incident or had struck the hand/ arm and gave his attacking colleague a goal scoring opportunity then the attacker would be penalised.
“This is a law that frankly treats defenders and attackers differently. It is in my opinion a poor law.”
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Liverpool went on to win the game with Salah scoring a hat-trick and Virgil van Dijk firing in a bullet header.
But the Reds were given a tough ride by newly promoted Leeds, who equalised three times before Salah’s second penalty finally put the game to bed two minutes from the end.