Sky Sports and MOTD pundits divided on Morris leveller as ex-Arsenal winger left 'shocked' it was allowed

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Luton snatch a late, late point at Turf Moor

The decision by VAR to allow Luton’s controversial goal to stand in their 1-1 draw against Burnley on Friday night has divided opinions from TV pundits with ex-Arsenal winger Paul Merson ‘shocked’ to see it allowed, although Match of the Day’s Glenn Murray felt it was the right call by the officials.

The hotly disputed equaliser has seen most feel that striker Elijah Adebayo fouled Clarets keeper James Trafford when the England U21 international was coming out to claim Alfie Doughty’s left wing cross, allowing Carlton Morris to head into the empty net. With referee Tony Harrington adjudging nothing wrong with the challenge, a decision back up by VAR, it saw the Hatters claim a huge point in their battle to stay up term.

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Speaking afterwards, Luton boss Rob Edwards conceded he had been expecting it to be disallowed, as Burnley manager Vincent Kompany called it ‘a joke’, co-owner JJ Watt labelling VAR ‘truly disgraceful.’

Giving his analysis on Soccer Saturday, Merson, who won 21 caps for England said: “They (Burnley) would have definitely highlighted that game, and they hung on and hung on, and in the end, Luton got the goal, which for me was a free kick all day long.

"I was shocked, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing, even the Luton players didn’t even celebrate. They just scored a last minute goal, they’ve just gone joint with Everton and you’d have thought there would have been a bundle, but a couple of players went over and congratulated, the lad who made the foul went over like, I'm not sure this is going to happen.

"It just feels for me, VAR are like, we’ve got to get everyone on our side here, tell you what we'll do, we'll give a goal here because everyone gives a foul against the goalkeeper. You’ve only got to touch the goalie, let’s give a goal, and it backfired again. For me the lad has turned into the goalkeeper and has put his backside out."

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Former Crystal Palace and Birmingham City forward Clinton Morrison, who had initially thought it was right to award the goal, changed his mind on second viewing, as he said: “When you watch it again, Adebayo goes in and pushes his hip into the goalkeeper Trafford, so now you can see why Kompany was angry. The goal shouldn’t have stood, he’s got no intention of playing the ball and he leans into him. It is a foul and even Rob Edwards said afterwards it was a bit fortunate."

Burnley keeper James Trafford collides with Luton forward Elijah Adebayo ahead of Luton's leveller - pic OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images.Burnley keeper James Trafford collides with Luton forward Elijah Adebayo ahead of Luton's leveller - pic OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images.
Burnley keeper James Trafford collides with Luton forward Elijah Adebayo ahead of Luton's leveller - pic OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images.

On Match of the Day, ex-Manchester City defender Micah Richards agreed, saying: “I think it's a foul and the reason why I think it’s a foul is Adebayo just barges into Trafford as he's coming out. He's just about to spring up and he puts his bum into his hip and it has to be a foul for me.”

The PGMOL guidance on challenges on goalkeepers, which was read out by host Gary Lineker says (1) Contact is an acceptable part of football, (2) Attacking players are permitted to compete for space and competitive advantage by being positioned close to a goalkeeper, (3) Where both attacker and goalkeepers are involved in simultaneous and/or similar actions, play should be allowed to continue.

With that in mind, former Brighton and Crystal Palace striker Glenn Murray was in support of the decision, adding: “I believe that it's not a foul and the reason is we have this perception in football in football that when the goalkeeper comes off his line we should part like the Red Sea and let him come and collect it. I think they're over protected as it is and for me the goalkeeper’s got to be stronger.”