ENGLAND secured a fine comeback win over Croatia yesterday to grab a UEFA Nations League semi-final berth – but things could have been very different.
Some commentators and fans are pointing out – correctly, if slightly cruelly – that the game could have ended in a draw, if match officials had noticed an infringement in the run-up to Jesse Lingard’s equaliser at Wembley.
3 Joe Gomez appeared to commit a foul throw in the lead-up to Jesse Lingard's goal yesterday
That goal came from a throw-in on the right which was taken by England’s new long throw specialist, Liverpool defender Joe Gomez.
From this, John Stones nodded down, Harry Kane’s attempted shot squirmed between the legs of a Croatian defender, and Lingard was left to poke the ball home from less than a yard.
But it’s been revealed that, by the letter of the law, the Manchester United player’s goal should not have stood – as Gomez committed a foul throw.
Eagle-eyed pundits have noticed that his foot was over the touchline as he launched the ball into the box – an offence under Law 15 of the International Football Association Board’s rules of the game.
Reuters3 Jesse Lingard scores England's equaliser in their 2-1 win over Croatia yesterday
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Had the centre-back’s inadvertent error been spotted, the goal could have been chalked off and a throw-in awarded to Croatia.
That would have been a harsh outcome for Gareth Southgate’s men, though, whose patient possession play more than warranted the equaliser.
Another fine performance from the national side was capped off by Kane’s winner six minutes from time, which put England on top of group A4 and sent them into June’s semi-finals in Portugal.
3 Eric Dier leads the celebrations as England deservedly reverse their World Cup semi-final defeat
The Three Lions will face either the host nation, Switzerland or the winners of a group A1 – which will be Holland, if the Dutch do not lose in Germany this evening, or France, who have completed their group fixtures.
Gomez’ long throw is a product of work with Danish coach and throw-in specialist Thomas Gronnemark, who has been working with the player at Liverpool.
The 42-year old – who says his is “the weirdest job in the world” – was brought into the club by manager Jurgen Klopp in the summer.