Analysis: Amadou Onana’s handball in Everton’s loss to Man City deemed unintentional but results in modern-day penalty

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Ex-Premier League referee Dermot Gallagher analysed incidents from the festive Premier League football. One incident he discussed was the penalty given in Everton’s 3-1 home loss to Man City. Amadou Onana was judged to have handballed from Nathan Ake’s shot. Gallagher believed it was a penalty based on the current directive regarding handballs. He mentioned that the referees are following a precise interpretation of the law and that the decision was unlikely to be overturned by VAR. Everton boss Sean Dyche disagreed with the decision, arguing that it was not deliberate. Gallagher acknowledged Dyche’s points but mentioned that the current directive has made it more complicated for referees. He also noted that most penalties given for handball are not deliberate.

Gallagher speculated whether there is a need to change the handball law, considering the consistent discussions about penalties given for handballs. He believed that changes could be made during the IFAB Annual General Meeting in March.

Another incident discussed was a penalty awarded to Chelsea in their 2-1 home win against Crystal Palace. Referee Michael Salisbury initially did not give the penalty for a foul on Noni Madueke by Palace forward Eberechi Eze. However, after reviewing the incident on the pitchside monitor, Salisbury changed his decision and awarded the penalty. Gallagher agreed with the decision, noting that the foul was clear.

Gallagher also analysed an incident in Liverpool’s 2-0 win at Burnley where Cody Gakpo had a goal disallowed due to a foul by Darwin Nunez on Charlie Taylor. Gallagher believed that if the goal had been scored, VAR would not have intervened to overturn the decision.

In the same match, Liverpool’s Harvey Elliott had a goal disallowed in the second half due to Mohamed Salah being in an offside position. Gallagher explained that Salah’s offside position was a result of a slight push from a defender. He mentioned that the referee only had two options in this situation: offside or penalty, and he chose to give offside.

Lastly, Gallagher discussed an incident involving Fulham goalkeeper Bernd Leno in their 3-0 defeat to Bournemouth. Leno, who was already on a yellow card, took the ball from a ball boy and made contact with the ball boy’s chest. Gallagher commended the ball boy’s calm reaction and mentioned that Leno’s actions were unwise and petulant. He explained that the guidance for officials in these types of incidents is to consider if it is aggressive, nasty, or serious, and in this case, it was more petulant than anything else.

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