Why the Bruno Fernandes goal stood even with Marcus Rashford clearly offside


Manchester United triumphed over a bitterly disappointed Manchester City in today’s controversial Manchester derby which saw Bruno Fernandes score despite Marcus Rashford being offside.

The Fernandes goal was United’s first in the game and is the main talking point from the match after it had to be awarded by VAR after it was initially ruled out for offside.


Michael Oliver, who was on VAR, quickly checked the goal and reversed his original decision of offside after Rashford did not interfere with play enough for the goal to be disallowed.

The visitors were furious with the decision as players surrounded referee Stuart Attwell and Man City manager Pep Guardiola screamed frantically from the touchline as they believed it was the wrong decision.


After the match the Premier League explained to TV broadcasters as to why the goal stood.

“The flag went up, ref and linesman had a conversation, deemed no touch on the ball from Rashford and no impact on the defender being able to play the ball. VAR could not find evidence of clear and obvious error so supports the goal.”

Former referee Peter Walton spoke more about the goal on BT Sport.

“You’re quite right in saying that Rashford has moved for the ball, hasn’t interfered with the ball, hasn’t played the ball himself, the flag goes up because of the offside position but when VAR look at this and when the assistant discusses this with Stuart Atwell, I think this is a goal.”


After the linesman initially ruled out the strike for offside, VAR was consulted and referee Stuart Attwell awarded the goal.


According to FIFA, a player is actively interfering with play if they touch the ball after it has been passed to them by a teammate.

However, a player can also influence play without touching the ball, and so should be given offside if the referee feels that their offside position has interfered with an opponent – for example by preventing the opponent from playing the ball or by obstructing a goalkeeper’s line of vision.

The IFAB Laws of the Game handbook also explains:

  • a player moving from, or standing in, an offside position is in the way of an opponent and interferes with the movement of the opponent towards the ball this is an offside offence if it impacts on the ability of the opponent to play or challenge for the ball; if the player moves into the way of an opponent and impedes the opponent’s progress (e.g blocks the opponent) the offence should be penalised under Law 12.

It also says the following:

“A player in an offside position at the moment the ball is played or touched by a team-mate is only penalised on becoming involved in active play by:

  • interfering with play by playing or touching a ball passed or touched by a team-mate or
  • interfering with an opponent by:
  • preventing an opponent from playing or being able to play the ball by clearly obstructing the opponent’s line of vision or
  • challenging an opponent for the ball or
  • clearly attempting to play a ball which is close when this action impacts on an opponent or
  • making an obvious action which clearly impacts on the ability of an opponent to play the ball


  • gaining an advantage by playing the ball or interfering with an opponent when it has:
  • rebounded or been deflected off the goalpost, crossbar or an opponent
  • been deliberately saved by any opponent”

That being said, VAR Michael Oliver believed Rashford had not interfered in play enough to disallow the goal, and therefore allowed it to stand.

If you look back at the clip, no City defenders were in a position to touch the ball and divert it away from Fernandes when he hit the shot.

Just three minutes after the goal whilst City were still recovering United scored their second through Rashford who claimed a crucial three points for his side who have fund their form in recent weeks.

United now have 38 points from 18 matches, one less than Pep Guardiola’s side who will have to watch their back as the Red Devils have slowly caught them them up due to City’s poor form.



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