Danny Ings disallowed goal sparks another VAR debate

Was this the most borderline VAR call yet? Southampton are denied a last-minute equaliser against Aston Villa as Danny Ings’ sleeve is adjudged to be millimetres offside… as Jamie Carragher says attackers should start rolling their sleeves up!

  • Danny Ings thought he’d earned Southampton a late point against Aston Villa
  • Striker pounced to net after Emiliano Martinez pushed out Che Adams shot
  • But his celebrations were immediately cut short by an offside flag
  • VAR replays showed his sleeve was fractionally offside as he raced through
  • Decision left fans and pundits alike absolutely baffled about the offside rules
  • Jamie Carragher said attackers should roll their sleeves up to remain onside 

Danny Ings and Southampton were the victims of one of VAR’s most controversial calls yet as the striker’s stoppage time equaliser against Aston Villa was ruled out by mere millimetres.

Ings thought he’d earned the Saints a late point on Saturday night when he pounced to score after Villa keeper Emiliano Martinez had pushed out a shot by Che Adams.

The offside flag quickly cut short celebrations and VAR official Mike Dean decided that the end of Ings’ sleeve, which is classed as a part of the body with which a player can score, was fractionally beyond the backside of the crouching Matty Cash and therefore offside.

Southampton thought they’d equalised late-on against Aston Villa but Danny Ings was judged offside by one of the tightest offside calls yet

VAR replays showed that Ings’ sleeve, which is classed as a goalscoring part of the body, was fractionally beyond Matty Cash’s backside and therefore offside

Ings reacts to the disallowed goal, which would have earned the Saints a valuable late point 

Southampton couldn’t believe their misfortune, with manager Ralph Hasenhuttl suggesting afterwards he would make all the sleeves shorter with scissors.

And it sparked a debate among fans and pundits over the rule – which was tweaked at the beginning of the season to aide handball decisions – and whether attacking teams should received the benefit of the doubt in such marginal calls.

A further complication was that Ings was wearing a black armband in memory of former Southampton president John Mortimore on the arm adjudged to be offside, which may have made all the difference.

On Sky Sports, Jamie Carragher suggested that players might start rolling up their sleeves or wearing shirts with shorter sleeves to prevent a situation like Ings found himself in.

He said: ‘I’m being serious here, if you think about how tight these decisions are now and where the sleeve goes, roll the sleeve up, take it higher up.

VAR official Mike Dean decided that Ings’ sleeve was just offside as the ball came through

Ings’ agonised expression reveals his thinking as the close call goes against Southampton

‘How tight that was, someone has to take advantage. With the rules, it is what it is now and you’ve got to use that to your advantage. Attacking players should roll their sleeves up.’

Roy Keane, also in the Sky studio, added: ‘It’s tough [on Southampton]. The attacking team should be given the benefit of the doubt if it’s such a close call. Give it to the attacking team.

‘I tend to fall back on that all the time, maybe it’s old school or good school. It was a tough call on Southampton.’

On Match of the Day, Jermaine Jenas also felt the Saints had been hard done by.

‘It’s not offside, he’s just not offside. We are getting used to the really tight decisions. How they can determine that as offside, I don’t have a clue. It’s wrong.’

Ings’ goal was nulled as VAR judged he’d gained an advantage from his sleeve behind off-side 

There wasn’t any change to the IFAB guidance on using VAR to determine offside decisions at the start of the season, with Premier League efforts to introduce some leniency rejected.

Here, the new principle of the handball rules, which say anything below the sleeve line counts as handball and anything above counts as the ‘shoulder’ and can therefore be used to score goals, seems to have been applied.

So because Ings’ sleeve strayed beyond the offside line, he was correctly offside by the letter of the law. If he’s rolled his sleeve up, he might have got away with it.

Hasenhuttl said: ‘The offside goal from Ings, you can take the line here or there. If it’s offside, it is offside if the VAR sees it. Football is not always fair and at the moment it is not for us.

Ings was also wearing a black armband on that arm, which may have counted against him

‘We cut all the sleeves now in the dressing room. If Ings had cut the sleeve it is onside. It is a little bit strange.’

Villa manager Dean Smith, who also profited from another decision when a Cash ‘handball’ in the box didn’t lead to a penalty, saw the funny side: ‘Thankfully Matty Cash hasn’t got the backside John McGinn has otherwise he’d have been onside!’

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