It was a dream start to the Anfield career of Christian Benteke, as the towering Belgian centre-forward fired Liverpool into the lead in the 25th minute of his home debut with the decisive strike of the game, granting his team their second successive victory of the new Barclays Premier League campaign. The goal, while critical to the result, was not without its share of controversy.
Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe bemoaned the decision to allow the goal in his post-match presser, as he - quite reasonably - pointed out that Benteke's teammate Philippe Coutinho, from an offside position, had interfered with play. Upon review, the Brazilian playmaker had indeed made an attempt for the ball and, in the process, attracted the attention of Cherries keeper Artur Boruc, meaning the goal should have been disallowed, something match officials Craig Pawson and Harry Lennard failed to act upon.
Howe has since been in contact chief of referees Mike Riley to seek clarification on the seemingly redundant amendments to the offside rule, and the Premier League responded by penning a letter to all twenty top flight clubs for further explanation. In a statement on their official website, the Premier League confirmed that Christian Benteke's maiden goal for Liverpool should indeed have been struck off.
"Professional Game Match Officials Limited (PGMOL) issued this guidance in order to clear up any misunderstandings that arose following the goal awarded to Liverpool in their Monday night match against AFC Bournemouth," the bizarre statement read, "The Premier League does not generally comment on decisions made by match officials. However, given the recent change to the interpretation of the offside law and the fact that it was made close to the start of the season, the League felt it was appropriate, in this instance, to publish in order to inform fans and other stakeholders."
While the FA should perhaps be commended on this occasion for acknowledging their mistake, it's a far cry from the usually guarded approach they take to dubious decision-making. Many a manager have felt the wrath of the Football Association for criticizing the integrity of the match officials, with Liverpool's own Brendan Rodgers being fined £8,000 in January of last year for commenting on the performance of Lee Mason following his team's 2-1 defeat to Manchester City.
So, there you have it. Eddie Howe and his Bournemouth side have every right to feel aggrieved and, in truth, the outcome could and perhaps should have been reversed. The Cherries themselves had a goal struck off early in the first half, with captain Tommy Elphick deemed to have fouled Dejan Lovren before finding the net following a set piece routine.