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Lionel Messi's Ghost Goal Omitted from Majority of Assessments of Arsenal's Win

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 16: Lionel Messi of Barcelona looks dejected during the UEFA Champions League round of 16 first leg match between Arsenal and Barcelona at the Emirates Stadium on February 16, 2011 in London, England.  (Photo by Jasper Juinen/Getty Images)
Jasper Juinen/Getty Images
illya mclellanSenior Analyst IFebruary 17, 2011

I saw a game this morning in which a team was being taught a lesson in how to play football. Barcelona were literally schooling Arsenal in the game, passing and movement, fundamentals in football. Barcelona soon went into the lead with an excellent goal, set up by Lio Messi, and converted by David Villa. It was lovely stuff and the culmination of a period of dominance that had gone on for some time.

The game rolled on. The ball rolled about the pitch, fast and slow, but generally under the control of a green shirted player. Soon enough Barcelona scored again—not exactly a beautiful goal, but a goal nonetheless.

Messi had scored finally in England, and Barcelona were now in an extremely powerful position. A lovely lead-up was a bit muddled in the end, though Messi again showed his quality with an excellent reactive header to put the ball in the net. The Argentinian had seemingly put the second nail in Arsenal's coffin.

Inexplicably, the linesman had his flag raised. Were we missing something? Was he offside?

The replay confirmed the linesman was seeing things, and that a goal had been disallowed—a goal that would have given Barcelona a 2-0 lead, and that could well have changed the entire tone of the match.

In the aftermath, the amazing comeback of Arsenal is spoken about and marveled at. In some ways, it was certainly an exciting series of developments, and Andre Arshavin's goal was a splendid end to a spectacular piece of passing football.

The really odd thing is that so many have neglected to mention the ghost goal, glossing over it completely. Out of three articles on the Guardian website, only one was spotted with a real reference to the goal being an actual legal goal.

The euphoria actually seems a little bit overdone, a little bit overwrought, especially in the fairly wide spread notion that Arsenal played better than Barcelona in the match. Which is utter imagination: Arsenal were mind-bendingly lucky to win this match.

Suddenly everyone thinks they can win at the Nou Camp. Fair play to that notion, and it is possible.

It will be a great shock to this writer if Arsenal progress, after watching today's match and the general pattern and tone of the fixture.

Well done Arsenal. They did show amazing character, but a dubious line call will mean we will never know what really should or could have occurred today. If the game were officiated in the proper manner, there may have been a slightly different outcome.

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