Premier League issue statement as Liverpool left baffled by ruled-out Gakpo goal

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp reviews the Aston Villa game

The Premier League have clarified an unusual VAR process which ended up in Cody Gakpo’s Liverpool equaliser being chalked off. The Reds were chasing the game against Aston Villa on Saturday, and although Roberto Firmino levelled the scores late on, all three points could have been Jurgen Klopp’s if Gakpo’s close-range strike stood.

High-flying Villa made a dream start at Anfield, with Jacob Ramsey volleying home at the back post to silence the home crowd. Nothing less than a victory would do for Klopp and co as they hunted down a top-four spot, with Manchester United and Newcastle comfortably ahead.

They looked to be given a lifeline when Gakpo lashed into the bottom corner, but after a lengthy VAR consultation, referee John Brooks determined that the goal could not stand. That’s despite the former PSV Eindhoven forward remaining onside throughout the move, with supporters left baffled by the final decision.

Luis Diaz’s header back across goal rebounded off Ezri Konsa before landing at the feet of Virgil van Dijk, who was stood beyond the last line of defence but appeared to be played onside by Konsa’s deflection before crossing back in for the goal, but Brooks determined that the Villa defender’s contribution was not intentional.

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A Premier League statement has clarified as much, with the fact that Konsa did not intend to play the ball proving crucial. “The VAR recommended a review,” it read. “And referee John Brooks determined it was a deflection off Ezri Konsa, not a deliberate play.”

While Firmino grabbed a late equaliser on his last appearance at Anfield, the result still came as a bitter blow for the Reds, who will likely have to settle for Europe’s second-tier club competition next season.

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Klopp was forced to watch the game from the stands after being handed a touchline ban for his comments about referee Paul Tierney last month. Despite the controversy surrounding Villa’s disallowed goal and a possible red card shout against Tyrone Mings, the German decided to skirt past the issues after the final whistle.

Instead, the Liverpool boss took aim at what he saw as time wasting by Villa, who are also hunting down a European spot under Unai Emery. “The time wasting was… wow,” said Klopp.

“We saw against Sevilla the ball boys left the country. Roma against Leverkusen, how long was the ball in play? Everybody’s doing it. We’ve seen in many games this season. Nothing to do with the result today.”

The Reds will round off the campaign with a trip to relegated Southampton next weekend, with Klopp admitting that his side have been too poor for too much of the season to deserve fourth place.

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