Crystal Palace suffered a truly devastating last-gasp defeat at home to Manchester United last night but for those who watched the game on TV rather than live inside the stadium, there was a serious question mark over the validity of Romelu Lukaku’s equaliser.
Having established a 2-0 lead early in the second half, Palace were pegged back just seven minutes later by a Chris Smalling header before a period of heavy pressure from the visiting Reds brought about a chance for the Belgian hot-shot to level the scores from close-range.
Following a strike from Alexis Sanchez which looped high in the air and glanced off the face of Wayne Hennessey’s crossbar, Lukaku ran to control it and seemingly brought the ball under his power with the use of his hand. As a consequence, he was able to turn and dummy the defenders covering on the line before firing into the back of the net but surely, had the referee seen such an infringement, the game would have been halted immediately.
— Josh Holman (@JoshHolman_) March 5, 2018
Is NBC really not going to replay or talk about the Lukaku handball before his equalizer?
— Jeff Johnson (@BigJohnson177) March 5, 2018
Too bad Lukaku's handball was clear as day..
— Julian Medd (@JMedd19) March 6, 2018
— Big 18 (@VillageTrundler) March 5, 2018
Where was VAR when Palace Needed CLEAR HANDBALL Lukaku Before He Scored To Make It 2-2
— Big Lee (@BigGingaNinja88) March 5, 2018
Handball by Lukaku BUT THERES AN AGENDA AGAINST UNITED.
— ali Z (@originalAZee) March 5, 2018
Soooo handball with the Lukaku goal?
Ive seen nothing on twitter about it yet im pretty sure he did lol Am I blind?
— Bateson87 (@bateson87) March 5, 2018
Clear handball for Lukaku's third touch to control it there
— Cheat Mode (@Jumbocords) March 5, 2018
Love how the Sky Sports commentators have completely glazed over that clear handball by Lukaku
— Adam Weavers (@adam_weavers) March 5, 2018
From my own personal perspective, the mere fact that we’ve allowed a two-goal lead to slip at home with just 42 minutes left on the clock is heartbreaking and infuriating in equal measure, with Lukaku’s handball simply acting as a cherry on top of a turd-based cake. Yes, had VAR been in use the goal would almost certainly not have stood. Yes, the referee and his officials are at fault for not spotting it but our players must take their share of the blame for allowing United to dominate the pace and patterns of play so completely with the score at 2-1.
Unfortunately, yesterday will now go down as another bitter memory of points dropped rather than being looked back upon as a night when the players and supporters did themselves proud in equal measure. For the first 50 minutes of the contest we were at United’s collective throats and held a deserved two-goal advantage but in the immediate aftermath of Patrick van Aanholt’s well taken effort, we lost our heads and eventually paid the price in the cruelest manner possible.
I still have the image of Matic’s dipping long-range winner playing in my head as I write this and fear that it may be the goal which defines our chances of survival moving forward. For all of the quality it took from him, coupled with a potentially illegal assist from Lukaku’s hand in the split second before his leveller, the players will be feeling empty after letting such a valuable lead crumble in front of their eyes.
They say 2-0 is the most dangerous score-line in football. Last night proved exactly why so many feel that way.