At one end, Antonio Valencia went to ground without contact being made and before Glen Johnson had even begun his attempted tackle. At the other, Luis Suarez went down in the penalty area while replays showed that Jonny Evans had gotten player before ball when attempting to dispossess the Liverpool striker. Yet only one of the incidents led to a penalty being awarded by Referee Mark Halsey—the one that wasn't. This has left Glen Jonhson, the man penalised for Valencia's dive, less than entirely thrilled.
"I've watched it 50 times in there, not that I needed to—it's not a penalty," said Johnson. "I didn't touch him, I collided with Pepe. The referee told me he had to give it. He thought I touched him. There was no point me arguing with him on the pitch afterwards because he had already given it. It's so frustrating because I've not touched him—it's cheating at the end of the day."
Those replays that Johnson has watched on repeat since the match ended indeed show what he says. They show that he didn't make contact with the United attacker and that the United attacker was only ever looking to go to ground when a Liverpool defender got anywhere near him. It's the sort of thing that in an ideal world leads to a yellow card for simulation for the offender—either live or, if the referee isn't certain of the situation and so awards nothing either way, retroactively after the match. In this world, it led to Manchester United's winning goal on a day fraught with emotion for Liverpool and the club's support.
And it wasn't just Halsey's error at the Liverpool end that upset Johnson on a day when all of the major calls went United's way—even when replays made it clear they shouldn't have.
"I almost guarantee that if you flip it and Luis was the one who I was chasing and it's exactly the same situation with Luis rather than Valencia, then it wouldn't have been a penalty," he said, referring to Jonny Evans' foul on Luis Suarez in the United penalty area that went unpunished.
"I know it's difficult for the referee when players are sprinting as fast as they can but in the big games those decisions are the difference. We expect referees to make the right decisions because we are working as hard as we can to win the game. To have it taken away like that, I can't explain it."