VAR controversially denies Liverpool late leveller in Toulouse defeat

Jarell Quansah saw a dramatic stoppage-time equaliser controversially disallowed by VAR as Liverpool suffered their first Europa League defeat of the season in a 3-2 loss at Toulouse.

Quansah thought he had scored a 97th-minute leveller, which would have been the academy graduate’s first for the club, but Alexis Mac Allister was deemed to have handled in the build-up after referee Georgi Kabakov went to the pitchside monitor before ruling out the goal.

Liverpool had been given hope of a late comeback after substitute Diogo Jota, who had replaced Luis Diaz just hours following his father’s release by kidnappers in Colombia, scored an 89th-minute goal to make it 3-2.

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Liverpool were denied a late equaliser in their Europa League game in Toulouse after VAR intervened to rule out for a handball from Alexis Mac Allister

But Toulouse substitute Frank Magri’s 76th-minute goal proved to be the winner after Cristian Casseres’ own goal in the 74th minute had halved the French side’s lead following strikes by Aron Donnum (36) and Thijs Dallinga (58).

Defeat for Group E leaders Liverpool saw Klopp’s side miss out on the win that would have qualified them for the last 16 as group winners, with Toulouse moving two points behind them.

Should Quansah’s goal have counted?

Liverpool's Jarell Quansah reacts at the end of the Europa League Group E soccer match between Toulouse and Liverpool, at the Toulouse Stadium in Toulouse, France, Thursday, Nov. 9, 2023. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)
Quansah shows his frustration after his late leveller is ruled out by VAR

The decision to allow Quansah’s late equaliser for Liverpool seemed harsh – and may have been incorrect.

Mac Allister accidentally controlled the ball with his arm – which was close to his body – at the start of the move that eventually led to the defender’s goal.

But IFAB laws state that an “accidental handball that leads to a team-mate scoring a goal or having a goal-scoring opportunity will no longer be considered an offence”.

There’s no doubt that Mac Allister didn’t mean to control the ball with his arm, and several players touched the ball before Quansah finished.

How Reds’ perfect start to Europa League was ended

Liverpool had hammered Toulouse 5-1 at Anfield last month but just two weeks on they were beaten in the south of France in a topsy-turvy encounter to see their seven-game unbeaten run in all competitions ended.

Klopp made nine changes from Sunday’s draw at Luton with Diaz given a start after the news before kick-off that his father had been freed from his 12-day kidnap ordeal in Colombia.

On the back of that positive news, Liverpool nearly took a fourth-minute lead as Joe Gomez flicked a Cody Gakpo free-kick onto the bar.

The Reds continued to push for an opener but it was the home side who broke the deadlock in the 36th minute when Kostas Tsimikas was caught napping on the ball by Donnum, who drove into the box and saw his shot deflect off Quansah past Caoimhin Kelleher.

Tsimikas’ error saw him hooked at half-time along with Wataru Endo, who had been booked, and teenager Ben Doak, with Salah, Szoboszlai and Alexander-Arnold all introduced.

But it was Toulouse who started the second half stronger as the Ligue 1 side thought they had doubled their lead in the 50th minute through Dallinga, only for referee Kabakov to adjudge the striker fouled Joel Matip in the area before collecting the ball and finishing past Kelleher.

A win in Toulouse would have seen Liverpool secure passage to the last-16 as group winners
A win in Toulouse would have seen Liverpool secure their passage to the last-16 as group winners

But just eight minutes later Dallinga did double Toulouse’s lead with a lovely finish, producing a wonderful first touch from Vincent Sierro’s pinpoint cross before hammering a low shot past Kelleher into the bottom far corner.

Liverpool were given a route a back into the game in the 74th minute following a bizarre Casseres own goal as Gomez’s header across goal hit the midfielder’s shoulder to go in.

But just two minutes later Toulouse restored their two-goal advantage through substitute Magri as he fired home first-time from Kelleher’s save from Gabriel Suazo’s low cross.

Jota then set up a nervy finish with a neat 89th-minute goal which nearly resulted in a last-gasp Liverpool comeback only for VAR to deny Quansah a dramatic leveller and see Klopp’s 450th game in charge of Liverpool end in defeat.

What’s next?

Liverpool’s final fixture before the international break comes on Sunday as they host Brentford in the Premier League; kick-off 2pm. Their next Europa League fixture is on Thursday November 30 at home to Linz ASK.

Toulouse face Lille in Ligue 1 on Sunday; kick-off 2pm. Their next Europa League fixture is on Thursday November 30 against Union Saint-Gilloise.

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