Gary Lineker and Alan Shearer could not wrap their heads around the decision to rule out Enner Valencia’s opening goal for Ecuador at the Qatar World Cup – labelling the call ‘madness’. After huge controversy off the field heading into the mid-season winter tournament, it was not long before there was controversy on the field of play either when the South American nation took the lead against the hosts in Doha.
Felix Torres delivered a sublime acrobatic cross across the face of goal and former West Ham and Everton frontman Valencia was the man on the spot to head home.
But to the surprise of fans around the world, the goal was then chalked off for offside following a VAR review.
However, it became difficult to digest the call following initial replays which struggled to document exactly who was adjudged to have been in an offside position.
FIFA later clarified with a virtual graphic that Torres, who picked up the assist, was offside as he challenged Qatar goalkeeper Saad Al Sheeb.
READ MORE: World Cup fans left confused over disallowed ‘offside’ Ecuador goal in Qatar opener
“The ball goes up, the challenge is there, we are all thinking ‘okay, it’s not a high kick there, he wins a header there, fair header there’ – then it’s in the back of the net.”
Lineker then added on the incident: “Technically you could make an argument that because when he heads it goes up and bounces and fiddles around a bit. But really?
I mean, pfft, peculiar.”
Ashley Williams then weighed in on the debate: “It’s like what you said Al, everybody watching the game just thought, ‘goal, goal’ straight away.”
To which Shearer responded: “Madness. The sad thing is you have 60,000 in the stadium and none of them had a clue what was going on. Millions around the world, nobody had a clue what was going on.
“There was no information being fed back at all. That can’t be right.”
There were seven VAR officials on duty for the opening fixture in Group A and although at first the decision looked questionable, it was the correct call upon review.
Ecuador striker Valencia put himself in early contention for the Golden Boot despite seeing his quick-fire opener chalked off by the officials.
The 33-year-old won a penalty when he was tripped by Qatar goalkeeper Al Sheeb, who he later sent the wrong way from the spot.
Valencia was then on hand to power a brilliant header into the bottom corner to double his side’s advantage before he suffered a minor knee injury scare following a firm tackle. Thankfully for his nation, he was fit enough to continue after the break.