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Juventus and Milan at war over Muntari ghost goal

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By Charles Ducksbury

Tuesday 28 February 2012

Saturday’s Milan-Juventus game was billed as the game of the season. Yet afterwards there was only one topic of conversation, Sulley Muntari’s ‘goal’ that was not seen by the officials. From stress-related illnesses, to the president of UEFA criticising Juve’s keeper, there has been quite a fall-out from the incident.

Milan had dominated the match, leading through Antonio Nocerino’s deflected strike and looking comfortable against their shaken opponents. The key moment of the game came after a scramble in the Juve area ended with Sulley Muntari nodding the ball over the line, only for Gigi Buffon to parry the ball out. Referee Tagliavento initially moved his arm towards the centre circle to indicate a goal, but was over-ruled by his linesman. No goal. Juventus rallied and eventually equalised through Alessandro Matri’s smart finish inside the area. The game finished 1-1, leaving things as you were in the Scudetto race, with Milan leading by a point but la Vecchia Signora holding a game in hand (away to Bologna.)

That Sulley Muntari’s header crossed the line by a yard there can be no argument. And as we all know, the linesman over-ruled the referee and no goal was given. Had it been allowed, it would have made it 2-0 to Milan. But whether they would have gone on to win is by no means a certainty. What is certain, is that the whole dynamic of the game would have changed, and with the way the respective sides were playing, it’s hard to make a case for Juve getting back into the game. Later in the second half, the same linesman incorrectly adjudged Bianconeri forward Matri to be offside after he netted what he thought was an equaliser. And so the a debate commenced.

After the game, Antonio Conte became embroiled in a live TV row with former Milan midfielder Zvonimir Boban. After Boban argued that clearly both errors were of different ‘value’ (Milan going 2-0 ahead is different to Juve making it 1-1), Conte emphatically dismissed the Croat. ‘They are both technical errors, two goals are regular, yet you tell me that they were two different errors. What’s the difference? That goal was a goal and the other not? Two goals are regular, tell me what difference there is, I can not see it.’ The row carried on, Conte eventually apologising and a truce was called.

Gigi Buffon then caused national outrage with his declarations on the Muntari ‘goal’, telling viewers: "I didn't realise it had gone over the line, and even if I did I wouldn't have lent a hand to the referee." Rather than praise for his honesty, Buffon has been almost universally condemned. Referee chief Marcello Nicchi stated ‘Everyone is free to think what they want but remember, young people take their cues from these examples.’ Even the president of UEFA Michel Platini waded in, saying ‘Buffon went too far with his words. If the referee had asked him and he had said ‘no’, then that would have figured him to be a liar.’

National team coach Cesare Prandelli leapt to the defence of his captain though: ‘Two or three days after the incident, everyone can say that the ball was in or not, but we can’t expect a player who is unsure to help the referee during such an important incident. He won‘t lose the captaincy.’

Aside from Buffon’s comments, the incident itself has caused heated debate in the peninsula. Milan Sporting Director Adriano Galliani had to leave San Siro citing ’stress’ from the incident, whilst club owner and disgraced politician Silvio Berlusconi stated: ‘I am more disappointed than angry. The result was falsified by that incident. If we’d gone 2-0 up, the situation would have been very different. Was the referee conditioned by Antonio Conte’s comments during the week? I really think so, yes. In any case, it was a mistake and I absolutely do not want to believe in a plot against Milan.’

The reference to Conte’s comments in the week is an interesting one. Conte spoke about how Juve had only been given one penalty this season and that referees had generally allowed decisions to go against the Turin giants, with many seeing this as deliberately putting pressure on the officials. Milan coach Max Allegri agreed with the majority, adding ‘I don’t believe the referees are affected by any sort of pressure. We can all make mistakes, so just as I can pick the wrong line-up or substitutions, they can miss a penalty incident.’

In the next few days, much more fall-out is expected from the game. Already Philippe Mexes has been banned for punching Marco Borriello away from the eyes of the officials, whilst both Andrea Pirlo and Sulley Muntari were acquited after being accused of throwing elbows. With a Coppa Italia Semi-Final 2nd leg is coming up in March as well as the race to the Scudetto to be decided, two clubs once famous for their civil relationship will be at loggerheads for the foreseeable future.

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By Anonymous on 02 March 2012 at 11:44

all these could have been avoided if video technology has been used. why is it not allowed? only the schemimg fifa officials knows, but as long as it's not used football will remain unjust, and their fair play, kick racist, etc.. are just shit stuff. b'cos of this we will start "hate football campaign" soon, come join us.

By Abdallah Dino Haji on 29 February 2012 at 15:10

By any reason Juve , they deserved to win against Milan. that is referee decision may be they couldnt see , ball is inside , how many matches juve they suppose to get penalty shoot out referee couldnt give , may be he couldnt see , the same thing.

By Dafe Gray on 29 February 2012 at 13:33

Yes AC Milan's second goal was incorrectly disallowed, but true also is the fact that Juventus' first goal was incorrectly disallowed! There is no difference between both situations IN ANY WAY! Milan fans might argue that it would have changed the dynamic of the match, but, this season already, we have seen juventus cancel out a 1-3 losing position to hold Napoli 3-3 at Napoli's ground. There is no evidence that the tired out Milan we saw from the 70th minute and on would have been able to stop Juventus scoring twice! Milan fans: face facts four goals were scored, two were disallowed, one for each side! The match ended a draw. Any suggestion that if Milans' second goal had been allowed, it would have led to a different scoreline is idle speculation. Frankly, from the games they have played so far, Juventus does seem to have the beating of AC Milan this season.

By Zewdu Ayele on 29 February 2012 at 06:39

I was embarassed by the act of the world class goal keeper, Bufon. I thought he even say the goal is scored and it is my fault. By the way what could the young generation learn from people like him? Anyway the past is past but this misfortune signals an urgent action on goal technology. The world football governing body, FIFA and EuFA must awake now. This is the right moment to decide something that keeps up the beauty of football. One thing is true at the end of the sason Milan will be the winner. Zewdu Ayele from Ethiopia






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