LONDON (AP)—A former Premier League match official has criticized referee Mike Jones for allowing a goal that deflected in off a beach ball in Sunderland’s 1-0 victory over Liverpool.
Dermot Gallagher said on Sunday that Darren Bent’s fifth-minute goal on Saturday at Sunderland should have been disallowed with play being restarted by a “drop ball.”
Gallagher said it was “a glaring error” because play should be stopped whenever something encroaches on the pitch.
Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez said the goal was just bad luck.
SUNDERLAND, England (AP)—Maybe a lifeguard should have run on the field and declared no goal.
A beach ball from the stands floated on the field in the opening minutes of Saturday’s Sunderland-Liverpool game in the Premier League. It might as well have been a set piece for Sunderland.
Sunderland’s Darren Bent took a shot that Liverpool goalkeeper Pepe Reina appeared to have covered. But Bent’s ball hit a large red beach ball, deflecting past Reina and into the net.
The goal, coming in the fifth minute at the Stadium of Light, stood. No referee—or lifeguard—waved it off.
It was the game’s only goal, and the 1-0 loss put Liverpool further out of title contention. Making matters worse for Liverpool was that the beach ball had been thrown onto the field by one of its fans.
“We didn’t play well but we had bad luck,” said Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez, whose team lost for the fourth time this season to slip to eighth place.
Benitez said he didn’t see the beach-ball deflection.
“I was surprised because the linesman was there and afterwards they were explaining to me,” he said. “But you cannot change things.”