Firstly, replays showed United’s first goal, scored by youngster Danny Welbeck, should have been ruled out for offside. He wasn’t standing in an offside position when the ball came to him, but he had been offside seconds earlier when John O’Shea flicked the ball goalwards with his head. However, it was only once the video replay had been shown that there was any awareness of this offside, with not even the Southampton players appealing for it at the time. It would have been an extremely difficult decision for the linesman to call, given the speed of events, meaning not fault could lie with the officials.
The second goal was a penalty, after Mike Riley believed he spotted handball in the box. Nani had whipped a freekick in and the ball was blocked, as the Southampton defender jumped, his arm high in the air. Even with the replay, it was hard to tell which part of the body the ball had hit. After the match, footage from a different angle was shown and it looked as though the ball had in fact hit the back of McGoldrick’s head, not his elbow. Again though, this was a decision entirely difficult to call and was made easier by the fact the Southampton player had risen his arm in the box. There’s a lesson for you. Don’t turn your head away from the ball and jump with your arm in the air when you know a freekick is about to get pumped in your direction.
Nowt wrong with the third goal, but by that point, it mattered little.
Southampton had gone down to ten men, meaning their already fairly impossible task became more difficult. Whilst the open two goals were pretty controversial, I can’t see what else the officials could have done. No one thought the first goal was offside until the replay and if you jump in the box with your arm raised then you run a considerable risk of having a penalty given against you. However, I can see why Southampton would complain. But the red card was not controversial in the slightest.
“With the red card the boy made a tackle on the ball with one foot — not two as I was told. I know the boy well and it was a normal tackle,” said Poortvliet. “It wasn’t a red card. Matt was distraught afterwards and apologised to the guys. I feel so sorry for him because he tried to win the ball and didn’t deserve to be sent off.”
Matt Paterson’s challenge on Nemanja Vidic was high, late and dangerous. His studs landed in Vidic’s shin, which could have been career shattering had his own studs jarred in the pitch upon impact. It could have snapped his leg.
As I mentioned in the live blog at the time, Paterson had already left a leg in on one of our players with just a few minutes gone. Evans was grounded for a minute or so following the challenge.
Sir Alex Ferguson believes Riley gave Southampton the benefit of the doubt and was too lenient, given we were only a few minutes in to the match, but had he been fair with Paterson then, giving him the yellow card he deserved, it might have prevented another reckless challenge.
“I think the ref could have booked the boy in the first minute to calm him down,” said Ferguson. “He was just a bit over enthusiastic but it was a rash challenge and he didn’t give him any option. If he’d have booked him for his challenge on Jonny Evans in the first minute it would have calmed him down.”
It is easy to understand Southampton’s frustrations but they were taught a couple of good lessons yesterday. Firstly, don’t jump off the ground when tackling and secondly, don’t raise your arms in the penalty area!