LONDON: Everton’s 2-2 draw with Newcastle began with a poignant tribute to the victims of the Hillsborough disaster – and ended with another on-pitch controversy over a ‘phantom goal.’
Two child mascots wearing blue and red Everton and Liverpool shirts bearing the numbers nine and six, representing those who died in April 1989, led the teams out before the stadium rose in tribute and solidarity to Everton’s friends, rivals, relatives and neighbours.
Everton manager David Moyes, in his programme notes, wrote: “I and everyone at Everton stands alongside the Hillsborough families. I am a football supporter and a father and I applaud the families who continued to fight for the ones they loved.
“The outcome (the police cover-up findings of the independent panel) was nothing short of disgraceful. We have all been brought up to believe and trust in authority…the authorities who were responsible for the safety of supporters that day let themselves down.”
Then . . . it was on with a game which also a credit to football and the Premier League. Everton ended it feeling aggrieved after having two goals controversially ruled out before Newcastle snatched the draw with a late equaliser.
Substitute Victor Anichebe, whose earlier header had appeared to cross the line but was not given, thought he had won it three minutes from time but Demba Ba scored his second of the night even later.
Leighton Baines had put the hosts ahead in the 15th minute only for Ba to score with virtually his first touch after coming on at half-time; it was Newcastle’s 1,000th Premier League goal.
Marouane Fellaini’s effort was ruled out on a questionable offside decision before Anichebe’s disallowed goal added to the controversy.
Newcastle goalkeeper Steve Harper said: “It was behind me. I genuinely though I’d saved it but apparently it was over the line. You’re taught never to give it up and I didn’t, and we went and scored at the other end so I’m pleased.”
Goal-line technology was approved for use this summer by the International Board and the Premier League has been one of its advocates: installation complexities mean it cannot be introduced before next season at the earliest.
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