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03rd Dec 2021

“I’ve never seen anything quite as extraordinary as this” – Mark Clattenburg on Emile Smith Rowe’s goal vs Manchester United

Daniel Brown

Clattenburg says Atkinson was ‘powerless’ with what he could do

Former Premier League referee Mark Clattenburg has explained why Emile Smith Rowe’s bizarre goal against Manchester United was awarded.

In the 13th minute, Arsenal’s corner was headed away by a United defender, however, goalkeeper de Gea went down injured in the process after team-mate Fred accidentally stood on his ankle.

The Red Devils’ clearance found its way to the feet of Smith Rowe, who smashed the ball into the back of the net, with de Gea still down injured on the floor with his back to play.

As the ball hit the net, referee Martin Atkinson blew his whistle and stopped the game – yet it was not clear what he had actually blown for.

However, when the Spanish shot-stopper eventually got back to his feet, Atkinson awarded the goal.

Some people were unsure about whether or not the goal should’ve been awarded, but former Premier League referee Clattenburg has insisted that Atkinson had no choice but to give the goal.

Speaking to Amazon Prime at half-time of the fixture, he said: “I’ve never seen anything quite as extraordinary as this.

“However, Martin Atkinson is powerless, if he would’ve blown his whistle before the ball had entered the goal, it would’ve been more controversial because Arsenal would’ve been the victims of a disallowed goal.

“The only time Martin Atkinson could’ve disallowed it is if [Jadon] Sancho would’ve won the game and it went towards the halfway line, I’m sure Martin Atkinson would’ve killed it at that moment.

“He doesn’t see de Gea down, but you can clearly see Fred stamping on the back of de Gea’s foot.

“Martin Atkinson then moves towards the two players challenging for the ball, so Martin Atkinson isn’t looking at the goalkeeper at this point.

“It’s only when he’s about to strike it, he looks up and he’ll be thinking ‘why is de Gea down?’

“His feeling will be that there is a foul in the build-up, and that’s why VAR is there – you can’t blow your whistle until the ball’s enter the goal to give VAR a chance.”

Despite going a goal down to the controversial strike, United levelled proceedings quickly after the half-time break thanks to Bruno Fernandes’ smart finish.

The Red Devils then took the lead through Crisitano Ronaldo’s 800th career goal, but his and United’s joy was short-lived as Martin Odegaard swept home Gabriel Martinelli’s cross to make it 2-2.

However, the home side once again took the lead when they were awarded a penalty for Odegaard’s tackle on Fred – Ronaldo stepped up to take the spot-kick and converted with ease.

United were able to hold onto their lead and secure an important victory, with the win seeing them move three points began fourth-placed West Ham and just two points behind Arsenal.

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