Offside row as Benteke sinks Bournemouth on Anfield debut
Liverpool win second match of the season 1-0 but should Benteke's first league goal for the Reds have stood?
Liverpool 1 Bournemouth 0. A controversial goal from summer signing Christian Benteke on his home debut was enough to give Liverpool a 1-0 win over Bournemouth and continue their unbeaten start to the season.
Benteke, who arrived at Anfield in the summer from Aston Villa in a £32.5m move, fired home a cross from Jordan Henderson on 26 minutes to move the Reds up into third spot.
The controversy came from the actions of Philippe Coutinho, who was clearly offside as he tried to get on the end of Henderson's ball. He did not connect with the cross, but new guidelines for offside introduced this season clearly state that if a player makes an "obvious action" to play the ball from an offside position they should be penalised.
Yet the goal stood and ultimately it condemned Bournemouth to another defeat, leaving the south coast side second from bottom in their first season in the Premier League.
If Liverpool's goal wasn't galling enough for Bournemouth, they had a goal of their own ruled out when the referee Craig Pawson decided that Tommy Elphick's effort was invalid because of a foul on Dejan Lovren. "You can't beat the decisions and the two big ones have cost us points. It is unforgiving," reflected Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe, distraught at what he viewed as the injustice of the decisions.
"The new offside rule is a grey area," added Howe: "Under the new rules that is clearly offside. Our goalkeeper was affected by the player in front of him. I was very surprised that the goal was given. That is the clearest example of the new rule you will see. A yard and a half offside and he is clearly impacting the goalkeeper."
Howe had the sympathy of the neutral, particularly as the new offside law states that "a player in an offside position shall be penalised if he clearly attempts to play a ball which is close to him when this action impacts on an opponent or makes an obvious action which clearly impacts on the ability of an opponent to play the ball".
On that basis it was hard to understand how the goal was allowed, and Howe confirmed that he would be speaking "privately" to the officials to seek clarification.
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers refused to get into the finer details of the new offside law; confining himself to: "The offside rule has changed again and it adds complication for people... the interpretation of offside changes every season, so it is difficult. If you are offside you are offside."
Asked for his opinion on whether Benteke's goal should have stood, Rodgers replied: "I haven't seen the replay, but it is a goal."
Tommy Elphick spoke for all of the Bournemouth side when he described the Liverpool goal as a "gut-wrencher". As for his own effort that was disallowed, the defender said: "I got up ahead of Lovren, obviously you have to use your arms as leverage."