Saturday was a bad loss for Liverpool in absolutely chaotic game. They ultimately fell 2-1 to Tottenham thanks to a last-second own goal, after going down to nine-men while having a chance to go top of the Premier League. That said, it's a loss that was, in many ways, out of their control. In the 33rd minute, already down a man, Liverpool thought Luis Diaz had given them a lifeline with an incredible goal to open the scoring, but it was judged to be offside.
The call on the field was not overturned by VAR, though as with all goals, it was, or should have been, subject to an automatic offside check. After the match, the Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL) admitted in a statement that a significant human error occurred resulting in permitting the offside call which caused the goal to be disallowed to stand.
"The goal by Luis Diaz was disallowed for offside by the on-field team of match officials. This was a clear and obvious factual error and should have resulted in the goal being awarded through VAR intervention, however, the VAR failed to intervene.
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"PGMOL will conduct a full review into the circumstances which led to the error. PGMOL will immediately be contacting Liverpool at the conclusion of the fixture to acknowledge the error."
Here's a look at the Diaz goal that was ruled out:
😱 ¡POLÉMICA EN EL TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR!— Telemundo Deportes (@TelemundoSports) September 30, 2023
👀 Luis Díaz había marcado, pero fue anulado por fuera de lugar…
🤔 ¿Es o no es? ¡Juzga tú mismo! 🎥#Tottenham 0-0 #Liverpool
📺📱 EN VIVO por @NBCUniverso y Telemundo APP ➡️ https://t.co/DdFks5kRCM#LigaPremierTD pic.twitter.com/v9xHhe5R6j
That one moment changed the entire game and when the Reds could've been first in the league following the weekend, no amount of apologies can make up for mistakes like this. Add in the fact that it was a questionable red card to Curtis Jones for a challenge on Yves Bissouma which had first reduced Liverpool to 10-men and things quickly went from bad to worse for Liverpool.
Improvements need to be made to the VAR system as this isn't even the first time that Tottenham have benefitted from a blown VAR call like this. Last August in a match against Chelsea, Christian Romero pulled Marc Cucurella's hair before Spurs scored an equalizer against Chelsea and after a VAR review, the goal was allowed to stand. Again, after the fact, it was admitted that the goal shouldn't have stood but these are decisions that have to be right the first time. And later, the VAR at the time, Mike Dean, admitted to knowing that he should have called for a check but did not.
Liverpool were dominating the game from the opening kick, and even after the disallowed goal, managed to stay tied with Spurs deep into stoppage time despite having two men sent off, but now find themselves behind Tottenham in the table through no fault of their own. With how thin margins can be in the Premier League, results like this can be the difference between making Champions League or not which can also cost the Reds millions down the line.
Without changes, trust will continue to erode in VAR due to inconsistencies in how it is applied. Champions League and the World Cup used semi-automated offside technology to conduct automated reviews to remove the human element but that has yet to make it to the Premier League. WIth more issues like this in the future, that may be what's needed to come to a resolution.