Both teams were left with reasons to complain about referee Howard Webb after Arsenal’s 2-1 victory over Liverpool Sunday at the Emirates, but with the Gunners on to the FA Cup’s quarterfinals, only one team was harmed by the game’s controversial decisions. Seeing Arsenal get a small bit of revenge for the 5-1 loss they suffered at Anfield, Liverpool were left to bemoan what ifs after Webb’s whistle failed to the Reds a crucial late call.
“[We] are bitterly disappointed not to get something and not to get another penalty, which I thought was a blatant penalty,” Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers told BT Sport after the match, as relayed by the Independent.
The controversial non-call occurred late, after Liverpool had already been awarded a penalty when Lukas Podolski brought down Luis Suárez. The second incident came after a blocked free kick was followed by Suárez working his way into the penalty area. This time, however, contact from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlian failed to draw a call from the official.
“It was probably more clear and blatant than the first,” Rodgers said, later going on to say “I thought the best team lost.”
To the extent they reflect the actual action, the numbers support Rodgers’ claim. Liverpool dominated possession (57 percent) and put seven shots on target to Arsenal’s three, and while much of that can be attributed to the fact Oxlade-Chamberlain put the Gunners up in the 16th minute, Liverpool still controlled the game.
But claiming control of a game reflects your worthiness to win is as short-sighted as saying all calls should go in your favor, or implying every infraction in the penalty area is always called. There’s an inherent variability to the game that you have to not only accept but overcome. The variability includes matches where a referees’ decisions harm you more than your opponents. The best teams find a way to deal with these circumstances.
Howard Webb may have made mistakes on Sunday, but Liverpool did, too. They failed to adjust to a set of circumstances that worked in Arsenal’s favor. While Rodgers can complain about Webb’s performance, he should also ask why his players failed to respond.
Borussia Dortmund substitute and USMNT phenom Christian Pulisic subbed into Tuesday’s UEFA Champions League match versus Real Madrid and made a difference.
Given 17 minutes to work, Pulisic needed about 10. The 18-year-old American sent in a cross that Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang couldn’t volley but fell to another BVB player.
[ MORE: Big Sam canned ]
That was Andre Schurrle, and the ex-Wolfsburg and Chelsea man lashed a shot behind Navas to make it 2-2 at the Westfalenstadion.
Pulisic does well here, real well, and had a chance to make it 2-2 himself that was smothered by Navas.
A 67-day reign as a national team blown up by allegations of corruption? We’ve seen similar situations in world soccer, but certainly not at a high-profile, traditional headline-grabber like the England national team.
[ MORE: Big Sam canned ]
English legend Alan Shearer called the Three Lions a “laughing stock”, adding that, “I’m angry, I’m sad, I’m staggered at the misjudgement from a guy who admitted this was his dream job.”
The UEFA Champions League’s group stage hits its second round of matches Tuesday, with two Premier League teams in play and a bevy of big names from outside England.
[ MORE: Dempsey out for 2016 ]
Leicester City 1-0 Porto
The chemistry between Algeria and now Leicester City teammates Riyad Mahrez and Islam Slimani is very real.
The former fed the latter for an opening goal on Tuesday in UEFA Champions League play at King Power Stadium, as the Foxes have opened up a 1-0 lead on Porto.
You can imagine the visitors aren’t too pleased with having to meet up with Slimani, who they just managed to see out of their league only to watch him arrive in their UCL group.
And how about the mad dabbing kid shown just after Slimani’s celebration? Wild nights in Leicester.
CSKA Moscow 0-0 Tottenham Hotspur
Spurs are controlling the play, but have yet to find a goal in Russia.
Dinamo Zagreb 0-2 Juventus
Gonzalo Higuain and Miralem Pjanic have the goals for The Old Lady.
Borussia Dortmund 1-1 Real Madrid
Cristiano Ronaldo got on the scoresheet, though the hosts have been by far the more dangerous side. USMNT teenager Christian Pulisic is on the bench for BVB.
Thomas Tuchel’s side threatened to score through a Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang rocketed a shot just over the frame, and the Gabonese man made it 1-1 soon after when Keylor Navas punched Raphael Guerriero’s free kick off Raphael Varane. Aubameyang touched it over the line for an academic marker.
Here’s Ronaldo’s goal:
Sevilla 0-0 Lyon
Monaco 0-0 Bayer Leverkusen
Copenhagen 0-0 Club Brugge
Sporting CP 2-0 Legia Warsaw
The Seattle Sounders may yet make a playoff appearance, but it will be without Clint Dempsey.
The USMNT star recently returned to training with the team after dealing with an irregular heartbeat.
[ MORE: Big Sam canned ]
Sounders general manager Garth Lagerway made the announcement on Tuesday.
“If we prioritize this now, hopefully we can get Dempsey back in 2017.”
That does not seem to bode well for his participation with the United States men’s national team, which has October friendlies with Cuba and New Zealand before the first two matches of the final round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying in November.
Fortunately for the Sounders, both Jordan Morris and Nicolas Lodeiro have their upped their games in his absence, and Andreas Ivanschitz has been decent as well.
Seattle is five points back of fifth place Sporting KC, and three back of sixth place Portland. The Sounders have played two less matches than both sides.