Why Danny Welbeck's 97th-Minute Goal Against Spain Was Wrongly Disallowed
Spain came away from Wembley Stadium with all three points after a 2-1 win over England to kick-start their UEFA Nations League campaign. Goals from Saul Niguez and Rodrigo were good enough for La Furia Roja to come from behind after Marcus Rashford had given the home side the lead.
However, the Three Lions were denied a legitimate goal very late in the game when substitute Danny Welbeck had found the back of the net before the referee blew the whistle for a foul before his shot.
Danny Welbeck's goal is disallowed
The effort came in the 97th minute of the game. Nine minutes had been added on after Luke Shaw received treatment on the pitch early in the second half when he was involved in a collision with Dani Carvajal and received a knock to the head.
A hopeful cross into the box was not dealt with by Sergio Ramos. His attempted clearance saw the ball loop into the air and three players converged under it. One of those players was Danny Welbeck.
As Ramos fell away, Sergio Busquets attempted to keep Welbeck at bay. But the Arsenal striker only had eyes for the ball and pushed him aside with his forearm.
But when the Englishman attempted to make contact with the ball, he shied away from challenging for it as David De Gea leapt into the air to catch the ball. In an attempt to avoid a collision, Welbeck turned his back to the goalkeeper.
This was when De Gea fell on Welbeck and the ball hit the striker on the back of the head. The Manchester United goalkeeper had not clutched the ball tightly enough and it fell away from him, inviting Welbeck to take the shot on an open goal and score.
Referee Danny Makkelie took his time and then blew his whistle, awarding a foul instead of the goal, as De Gea lay prone on the pitch covering his face.
"I couldn’t see the play from my place. It was difficult. I asked David de Gea and he told me he was fouled, but I don’t know. I cannot swear." - Spain coach Luis Enrique
England's players attempted to argue with the Dutch referee but he stuck to his decision. It wasn't his first wrong decision of the game - he had awarded a free-kick just outside the box when John Stones had made a clean tackle at the other end earlier in the game.
Why the referee got it wrong
According to Law 12 on Fouls and Misconduct in the game, Welbeck had not done anything to have his goal disallowed. He had not charged at or jumped on the goalkeeper, he did not kick him or push him, he did not attempt to trip him.
And Welbeck certainly wasn't reckless or careless or showing a lack of attention or consideration when challenging for the ball. One cannot say that he was impeding De Gea's progress either.
"All players have a right to their position on the field of play; being in the way of an opponent is not the same as moving into the way of an opponent." - Law 12
Welbeck only had eyes for the ball and attempted to move out of the way when he saw De Gea going up for it.
By blowing the whistle, the referee is acknowledging that Welbeck either deliberately got in De Gea's way or played recklessly to endanger an opponent. It was clearly not the case.
Harry Kane and Gareth Southgate lament referee's wrong call
When asked about the decision after the game, England skipper Harry Kane was very critical of the referee.
"In the big moments you need the referee to stay strong but unfortunately he has bottled it," the Tottenham Hotspur striker said.
"Big moments you need a firm referee who doesn't, under the pressure, make wrong decisions.
"Danny stood there, De Gea went up, he caught the ball but as he went down he fell on Danny, no foul or anything, and the ball has dropped."
England boss Gareth Southgate also explained why he thought the goal should have stood.
“The two defenders tried to block Danny out of it, De Gea came over the top and just dropped it," Southgate said.
"It’s clear for everyone to see. It should have been a goal. But over the 90 minutes, Spain were better than us for long periods of the game."
Spain play their second Nations League match against Croatia 11 September while England will have to wait till the next international break before they play Croatia on 12 October.