Why Man City were given a penalty for handball against Everton

  • Everton's Amadou Onana conceded a second-half penalty against Man City
  • Toffees boss Sean Dyche admitted he had "no clue" why the spot kick was given
  • Julian Alvarez converted the penalty in a 3-1 City win at Goodison Park
Everton's Amadou Onana had his arm in an uncompromising position
Everton's Amadou Onana had his arm in an uncompromising position / Michael Regan/GettyImages

Earlier this year, Aleksander Ceferin, president of European football's governing body UEFA, admitted: "Nobody in the world understands when there's handball or not."

Everton manager Sean Dyche certainly couldn't wrap his head around the decision to award Manchester City a second-half spot kick on Wednesday night. "The penalty, I have no clue," Dyche shrugged after his side fell to a 3-1 loss despite taking the lead against the newly crowned world champions. "I don't think anyone does."

Dyche revealed that the Premier League's managers agreed with Ceferin's damning appraisal of the handball law. "We had a Zoom call a couple of months ago," the Everton boss growled, "all of the managers said it is a farce and we don't know why they are giving penalties."

Here's a look at how the referee came to this particular decision at Goodison Park.

Why were Man City given a penalty for handball against Everton?

Nathan Ake, forward for a City set piece, pivoted to unleash a shot from within the six-yard box shortly after the hour mark. As is customary in any Dyche team, multiple Everton players hauled their bodies in front of the ball. Amadou Onana was first on the scene but blocked Ake's effort with his right arm.

Dyche's argument against the decision revolved around intent. "Is that deliberate? Of course not," Dyche asked and answered. "These players hit [the ball] so fast and so hard, I don't know where they are meant to put their arms when slinging yourself."

Law 12 in the FA handbook states that a handball offence has been committed "if a player deliberately touches the ball with their hand/arm, for example moving the hand/arm towards the ball". There's little doubt that Onana did not intend to beat away Ake's effort with his arm. As Dyche sniped: "If he deliberately did that, he must be some keeper because his reactions were cat-like. What a save."

However, the regulations go on to outline that intent is not the defining factor. A player is still guilty of a handball if they "touch the ball with their hand/arm when it has made their body unnaturally bigger". Whether deliberate or not, the lawmakers warn: "The player takes a risk of their hand/arm being hit by the ball and being penalised."

Onana's arm was above his head when it was struck by the ball, clearly increasing the surface area used to block Ake's attempt. The referee has to take into consideration whether Onana's positioning was "a consequence of, or justifiable by, the player’s body movement for that specific situation". VAR saw no clear and obvious evidence to rule that Onana had to have his arm raised and so sanctioned the penalty which Julian Alvarez converted.

Originally, the on-pitch official John Brooks waved play-on before a word in the ear from his assistant referee prompted the spot kick. Dyche wasn't happy about this aspect of the decision either. "The linesman was 50 yards away and gives it," Dyche exaggerated, "I don't know what that is all about."