Human eyes, and the brain that processes the images that go through them, are fallible. For some reason we consider “eye witness testimony” to be reliable in a court of law, when perhaps they shouldn’t be. Often we’re bad at recounting an event, even in its immediate aftermath. Even when we’re directly involved. Such was the case with Sadio Mane and the offside goal (that wasn’t offside after all) last night.
“I was thinking it was offside, to be honest,” Mane said in an interview with BT Sport immediately after the match.
“I told the boys to keep going and they said, ‘No, wait.’ I was surprised. It was an important goal but the more important thing was to qualify for the semis and we did it – it’s great.
“The beginning was tough. I think the team spirit was great; we never gave up, we tried to push hard as a team. We created many chances and scored many goals, so I think we deserved the win.”
Many of the most controversial offside calls are decided by the finest of margins, and ones that are too difficult to determine at full speed by our brains—brains that, from an evolutionary perspective, are still getting a grasp with this whole making fire business.
At full speed, the play looked offside. I was surprised the decision even went to VAR. But someone in a booth spotted something, and what they spotted even surprised the goalscorer himself. Mane, despite his best efforts, perfectly timed his run to poke home the game’s opener in Liverpool’s first real attack of the night.
It was a huge moment for the game. And because of the away goal rule, a huge moment for the tie.
As Liverpool advance into the deep stages of the Champions League, let’s hope VAR continues to be a force for good in the world.