LONDON: Luis Suarez found himself at the centre of another handball controversy after scoring Liverpool’s second goal in their FA Cup third round victory away to Mansfield Town.
The Uruguayan burst through the centre of the Mansfield penalty area and, when his first shot ricocheted back up off the body of keeper Alan Marriott, he appeared to control the hall with his outstretched right hand before rapping it into the net.
Referee Andre Marriner had no hesitation in awarding a goal.
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers said: “There is no doubt it was handball … I assume the officials thought it wasn’t deliberate. It’s not Luis’s job [to own up to handling]. That’s up to the officials; that’s why they get paid.”
Mansfield manager Paul Cox refused to blame Suarez, saying that any such comment “would be cheap.”
In the 2010 World Cup quarter-finals Suarez was sent off after punching off the line a shot from Asamoah Gyan which would have brought Ghana victory. The Ghanaians missed the subsequent penalty and lost to Uruguay in the shootout after extra-time.
Daniel Sturridge, Liverpool’s £12m purchase from Chelsea earlier this week, wasted no time in getting off the mark and helping the Reds into the fourth round at the expense of their non-league opponents.
The Blue Square Bet Conference side had their moments, notably at the start of the second half, before Suarez crushed their hopes in the 59th minute.
Matt Green scored a 79th-minute consolation for Mansfield which set up a lively finish but Liverpool held out to earn a tricky fourth-round trip to Oldham Athletic.
Mansfield were hailed by Liverpool officials for fan for leaving 96 seats empty in memory of the Hillsborough disaster victims.
Earlier in the day, Danny Graham was again Swansea’s last-gasp hero as his late equaliser in a 2-2 draw with Arsenal ensured a replay will be needed to settle their tie.
Michu, who settled last month’s league meeting between the sides, had looked to again be Arsenal’s downfall as he gave Swansea the lead just 73 seconds after coming on as a second-half substitute.
But two goals in three minutes from Lukas Podolski and Kieran Gibbs put the Gunners on course to advance, only for Graham, who scored a late leveller against Aston Villa in midweek, to rifle home with three minutes left.
FA Cup fourth-round draw:
Norwich v Luton
Oldham v Liverpool
Macclesfield v Wigan/Bournemouth
Derby v Blackburn
Hull/Leyton Orient v Barnsley
Middlesbrough v Aldershot
Millwall v Aston Villa
Leeds/Birmingham v Tottenham
Brighton v Swansea/Arsenal
Crystal Palace/Stoke v Manchester City
West Ham/Manchester United v Fulham/Blackpool
Southend/Brentford v Chelsea
Reading v Sheffield United
Huddersfield v Leicester
QPR/West Brom v Sheffield Wednesday/MK Dons
Bolton/Sunderland v Cheltenham/Everton
Ties will be played on the weekend of January 26/27
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