Why controversial Liverpool winner against Nottingham Forest was allowed to stand

  • Liverpool beat Nottingham Forest 1-0 on Saturday afternoon thanks to a late Darwin Nunez header
  • There was significant controversy surrounding the Reds' winner
  • Nottingham Forest were left fuming by Paul Tierney's decision
Nottingham Forest were fuming with Liverpool's late strike
Nottingham Forest were fuming with Liverpool's late strike / Catherine Ivill/GettyImages

It was the latest of late winners for Liverpool on Saturday.

As the seconds ticked away during their trip to Nottingham Forest, it seemed as if their Premier League title aspirations would take a hit at the City Ground with the game goalless heading into stoppage time.

However, in the 99th minute, Darwin Nunez's header would provide a record-breaking moment of pure ecstasy for the travelling supporters. Liverpool had won it at the death, despite the spirited efforts of Nuno Espirito Santo's side.

But, as is so often the case in the age of social media frenzy, there was plenty of controversy that came with the Uruguayan's late effort. Nottingham Forest were left enraged with referee Paul Tierney, with players and staff alike surrounding the official come the full-time whistle.

So, what was so controversial about Nunez's winner, and why was it allowed to stand?

Why was Liverpool's late winner against Nottingham Forest allowed to stand?

Kostas Tsimikas, Ibrahima Konate
Ibrahima Konate's head injury led to the controversy / Catherine Ivill/GettyImages

The controversy surrounding Liverpool's late winner is two-fold.

Firstly, Nunez's strike came in the ninth minute of stoppage time, despite the fact that only eight minutes of stoppage time had been awarded. However, that's a minimum of eight minutes to be played, not a maximum.

Therefore, the referee can let the play go beyond the eight minutes should there be further delays to proceedings, which there were in the form of two Forest players receiving bookings for time wasting.

Secondly, there was an incident in the Liverpool penalty area approximately two minutes before the goal following a Forest corner. Ibrahima Konate suffered a head injury and play was halted despite the hosts being in possession of the ball outside the penalty area. The play then resumed, with the ball being returned to Liverpool instead of Forest.

However, according to IFAB law 8.2, the ball should have been returned to Forest instead of Liverpool, with the rule stating: "The ball is dropped for the defending team goalkeeper in their penalty area if, when play was stopped: the ball was in the penalty area or the last touch of the ball was in the penalty area."

Callum Hudson-Odoi had possession of the ball outside the penalty area when Tierney blew to halt the game, meaning the ball should have been returned to Forest. Simply put, the referee made a mistake in this instance, although it's also worth noting that the incident occurred almost two minutes and two passages of play prior to Nunez's goal.

A similar incident occurred during the first half in which play was stopped for a head injury to Forest's Ryan Yates in the box, with the ball being returned to the home side rather than Liverpool. However, the key difference on this occasion is that no Liverpool player had touched the ball outside the penalty area, meaning Tierney technically made the correct decision.

What has been said about Liverpool's controversial late winner

Steven Reid, Paul Tierney
Tierney faced protestations after the final whistle / Catherine Ivill/GettyImages

Nottingham Forest were left furious by Tierney's officiating and made their feelings clear after the full-time whistle, exchanging frank words with the referee on the pitch. First-team coach and ex-West Brom defender Steven Reid was shown a red card, while club owner Evangelos Marinakis also confronted the officials after the match.

Despite a feeling of injustice, Forest manager Nuno Espirito Santo remained remarkably calm in his post-match press conference, stating: "I will not comment on the referee. Please don't insist on that, it will not be good. It will be a discussion point, for sure, in the week. I hope the decisions will be better."

Jurgen Klopp was quick to point out the similar incident in the first half, although referee Tierney actually made the correct call on that occasion. The Liverpool boss said: "It happened exactly the same as it did in the first half, just the other way round.

"I expected it to happen exactly like that because it happened like that in the first half. If it wouldn't have happened in the first half I would have asked the question as well.

"I would now assume that is the rule - to be honest, I wasn't sure - because twice it happened and twice it was handled exactly the same, so I don't really see the reason for the discussions because that's it."

Former Premier League referee Mark Clattenburg, who is now bizarrely a referee analyst for Forest, believed his employers were hard done by, claiming: "What we will be doing is speaking to the PGMOL, with my relationships that I have with the PGMOL and the Premier League, and we will discuss what happened on the field of play today, and we will look at the course of action in the future.

"In that crucial moment, Nottingham Forest have got the ball in the corner so they can absorb the time, see the time out to get the result, 0-0. The ball has gone back to Liverpool and they have won a corner.

"People can say they could have cleared their lines but from that initial moment players can lose concentration because they feel there has been an injustice."