Inspired by Juan Mata’s controversial goal for Chelsea in their FA Cup semi-final against Spurs on Sunday, we have carefully compiled our top five ghost goals for your viewing pleasure. Is this the end of the line for arguments to keep technology out of football?
Spot the ball
Frank Lampard - England v Germany
World Cup 2010 in South Africa was a truly miserable affair for England, culminating in a humiliating 4-1 thrashing by arch rivals Germany in Bloemfontein. But could things have been different? Every man and his dog thought Frank Lampard had levelled the scores at 2-2 when his deft chip landed a good yard over Manuel Neuer’s goal-line just before half-time, but the Uruguayan officials had other ideas and ruled it out. Most rational football fans would tell you that an in-form Germany side would have triumphed regardless, but an equaliser certainly would have made things interesting.
Christian Teffert - Duisberg v Frankfurt
If England felt unlucky in Bloemfontein, imagine how Second Division German side Frankfurt felt after this clanger. Duisburg’s Christian Tiffert’s effort struck the underside of the crossbar before landing a whopping 1.3 meters away from Frankfurt’s goal-line, but despite a clear view of the incident, the linesman signalled to the referee and a goal was given. Frankfurt's protests might have been stronger were they not already 4-0 down. In the confusion that follows the 'goal', scorer Tiffert shrugs innocently as Frankfurt’s plans for a late four-goal comeback are dashed.
Freddie Sears – Bristol City v Crystal Palace
Hell hath no fury like a wronged Neil Warnock. You’ll want to turn the sound up for this one, as former Crystal Palace manager Warnock rages at officials who wrongly disallowed a clear goal from striker Freddie Sears in 2009. Sears, on loan from West Ham at the time, beat the goalkeeper from six yards but his shot bounced off the stanchion at the bottom of the net and came back out. Referee Rob Shoebridge failed to spot the goal and Crystal Palace went on to lose the game 0-1. Poor Sears has only managed a single league goal in two-and-a-half years since that day. And I’m pretty sure Neil Warnock is still angry too.
Pedro Mendes - Man Utd v Spurs
Sunday’s incident at Wembley was not the first time in recent years that Spurs have found themselves at the centre of goal-line controversy. In 2005, midfielder Pedro Mendes’ speculative effort from the halfway line at Old Trafford was clumsily dropped over the goal-line by Man Utd keeper Roy Carroll. When referee Mark Clattenberg and his linesman fail to award the goal, the sheepish expression on Carroll’s face tells you all you need to know.
John Eustace - Watford v Reading
This is perhaps the most bizarre decision of the bunch. When Reading midfielder Stephen Hunt sent a corner into the Watford box in this Championship clash in 2008, Watford defender John Eustace looked to have deflected the ball for another corner. Remarkably, however, linesman Nigel Bannister flagged for an own goal, despite the incident taking place the wrong side of the goalpost. Four yards the wrong side, to be precise. To the total bemusement of everyone inside the stadium, however, referee Stuart Atwell gave the goal.
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See more from our Five of the Best series:
Five of the Best: Penalties
Five of the Best: Penalty Blunders
Five of the Best: Goalie Goals
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