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3
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4
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2
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1
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Mar 15, 2012

Goals that never were

After Clint Hill was denied in QPR's defeat to Bolton, this week's First XI pulls out a selection of some of the other goals that never were.

Note: several such incidents - including those involving Clive Allen, Pedro Mendes and Freddie Sears - have previously been covered in the First XI bad decisions.

Virginio De Paoli (Lazio 0-0 JUVENTUS, Serie A, 1966-67)

In one of the earliest filmed examples of the ghost goal, title-chasing Juventus were forced to settle for a point in their Serie A game at Lazio in January 1967 when referee Bruno de Marchi failed to spot that Gigi De Paoli had turned the ball into the net.

De Marchi later explained: "It was a rainy, freezing day. The ground was frozen. The soaked nets were held in position by a 1.5 inch rope hung horizontally near the crossbar. That rope, frozen solid, misled me when De Paoli shot - I thought the ball had hit the crossbar instead and waved play on, and the linesman never gave me any signal."

The incident would not prove decisive - Juventus eventually clinched the league title by one point that year - but it was a significant moment in the careers of both player and referee.

Michel (SPAIN 0-1 Brazil, 1986 World Cup group stage)

Brazil had gone into the 1986 World Cup as pre-tournament favourites, but they were extremely fortunate to record victory over Spain in their Group D opener. In the 55th minute, with the score at 0-0, Real Madrid midfielder Michel struck the underside of the bar following a corner and saw the ball bounce eight inches over the line, and then out again. Spain vigorously protested to Australian referee Christopher Bambridge to no avail. Seven minutes later, Socrates scored the only goal of the game to give Brazil victory.

There was predictable outrage in various newspapers around the world, and even Brazil's O Globo accepted it was clearly over the line. Spain boss Miguel Munoz said it changed the course of the game, but his Brazil counterpart, Tele Santana, decided to underplay the incident: "It's possible Michel's goal went over the line, but on days like this it's the victory that's important."

Spain eventually finished second in the group to reach the knockout rounds.

Dorinel Munteanu (Bulgaria 1-0 ROMANIA, Euro 96 group stage)

Romania, beaten 1-0 by France in their Euro 96 opener, had been in need of a point to have any hope of progress from their group when they took on Bulgaria at St James' Park. They did little to boost their chances when carelessly falling behind to a Hristo Stoichkov goal on three minutes, but they should have been level after half an hour: Gheorghe Hagi played a corner to Munteanu, whose 25-yard shot hit the underside of the bar, bounced over the line and was then headed to safety.

Referee Peter Mikkelsen and his assistants failed to spot it, and Romania exited the tournament.

Jonathan Howard (CHESTERFIELD 3-3 Middlesbrough, FA Cup semi-final, 1996-97)

Division Two side Chesterfield would have become the first ever team from the third tier to reach an FA Cup final had they beaten Middlesbrough at Old Trafford, and but for a piece of misfortune they may well have achieved their goal.

With Boro down to ten men after Vladimir Kinder's dismissal, Andy Morris had broken the deadlock on 54 minutes, and Sean Dyche then put Chesterfield 2-0 up with a penalty on the hour, though Fabrizio Ravanelli reduced the arrears four minutes later. With the score at 2-1, Jonathan Howard fired the ball off the underside of the crossbar and saw it bounce down over the line and then out again.

At that point, referee David Elleray blew his whistle and signalled for a Boro free-kick. After the game, he said the free-kick was given for a Morris foul after the ball bounced back into play; later, he confirmed he had "seen the replay and accept the ball crossed the line" but rather unconvincingly claimed he had awarded a foul for an unspecified incident before Howard took his shot.

Two minutes after Chesterfield had been denied, Juninho won a dubious penalty that Craig Hignett converted, and further goals from Gianluca Festa and Jamie Hewitt saw the match finish 3-3 after extra-time. Middlesbrough won the replay 3-0 at Hillsborough.

Gerry Taggart (BOLTON WANDERERS 0-0 Everton, Premier League, 1997-98)

Bolton's first ever game at the Reebok Stadium took place on September 1, 1997, and was something of a damp squib but for one incident in the 52nd minute. Defender Gerry Taggart had headed onto the bar and seen the ball bounce six inches over the line before Terry Phelan was able to clear. "We thought the ball was over the line, but the referee has to make an instant decision," Bolton boss Colin Todd said afterwards.

Given that the match took place so early in the season, the consequences had not appeared so severe but, by the end of the campaign, the memory of the goal loomed large: Bolton finished level on points with Everton, but were relegated on goal difference as the Toffees survived.

"It's amazing that the debate has been going on ever since and yet, with all this so-called modern technology, we're no further forward," Todd told The Sun in April 2002. "Why can't we have an electronic eye like in tennis? You would have thought someone would have tried to introduce it by now."

Victor Ikpeba (NIGERIA 2-2 Cameroon, 2000 African Nations Cup final)

Cameroon became champions of Africa for third time in the Nigerian city of Lagos, winning a penalty shootout after a 2-2 draw amid huge controversy.

With Nigeria's Nwankwo Kanu having seen his penalty saved, the pressure was on Borussia Dortmund striker Victor Ikpeba as he stepped up to take Nigeria's fourth. His effort cannoned down off the underside of the crossbar, over the line, and back out again; Tunisian referee Mourad Daami did not award the goal, and Rigobert Song stepped up to score the winning penalty for Cameroon. "It's something that lives in my memory and will be with me all my life," Ikpeba told the BBC.

The outcome sparked riots among the 40,000 fans at the National Stadium and police had to use tear gas to control the crowds inside and outside the ground.

Frank Lampard (Germany 4-1 ENGLAND, 2010 World Cup second round)

After a horrendous tournament, England were unceremoniously dumped out of the World Cup by a vibrant young Germany side. Yet, while few would argue that Joachim Low's men were deserving winners, England were on the receiving end of one of the worst decisions in World Cup history.

Germany had run up a 2-0 lead through Miroslav Klose and Lukas Podolski before Matthew Upson restored hope. Frank Lampard would have fired England level just before the break as his strike came down off the crossbar and landed a yard over the line, but the officials failed to spot it and play was allowed to go on. When shown a replay at half-time, Uruguayan linesman Mauricio Espinosa was reported to have exclaimed: "Oh my God!" Germany eased to victory in the second half, and England were out of the tournament.

FIFA president Sepp Blatter apologised to England before promising to review options for goal-line technology, while in Germany there was a feeling of justifiable revenge in light of the 1966 Wembley-Tor.

Pablo Gabas (Limon 1-0 ALAJUELENSE, Costa Rican Clausura, 2011)

Costa Rican side Alajuelense suffered defeat at Limon when the officials failed to spot that, after Argentine midfielder Gabas had risen to head Cristopher Meneses' cross, the ball had hit the post, then the back of the net, then bounced onto the opposite post and back out of the goal.

The 'goal', which came five minutes before half-time, would have been the equaliser and Gabas was left baffled at the final whistle. "Even God himself, who is everywhere, saw that it was a goal! It was just the linesman who didn't see it. He messed up the game for us," Gabas said afterwards. "The linesman must take most responsibility as the referee was quite far away, but that doesn't mean the referee's not guilty too."

Fran Fandino (Pontevedra 1-0 ALONDRAS, Spanish Tercera División, 2011-12)

A hole in the netting cost Alondras when midfielder Fran Fandino's first-half header entered the goal before bouncing through into the stands. Referee Garcia Parada and his assistants failed to spot what had happened, and matters got worse for Alondras when Pontevedra scored a late goal to win the game.

"At first we thought he'd given a foul or something, but then he pointed for a goal kick," Fandino said. "Our captain, Santi, went to speak to the referee but he didn't say anything ... I think he realised his error but could do nothing about it."

Alondras boss Alfredo Alvarez was less relaxed. "There were three people on the field who failed to see that the ball went in the net and they were the ones who made the decision," he said. "We should have stopped the game, gone onto the field and been more aggressive with the referee because a situation like this cannot be allowed to happen."

Lee Wallace (Celtic 1-0 RANGERS, Scottish Premier League, 2011-2012)

Celtic overtook Rangers at the top of the table after a 1-0 victory in December's meeting at Parkhead, but the outcome could have been very different. Celtic, having trailed their rivals by 15 points at the start of November, had closed within a point by the Old Firm meeting on December 28, but they should have fallen behind with just over six minutes played when Lee Wallace's header crossed the line. The officials - and even the Rangers players - failed to spot it, and Celtic went on to win the game 1-0.

"I looked quickly at the referee, but he waved play on so I assumed it hadn't crossed the line and just got on with it," Wallace told the Daily Express the following month. "It was only when I went into the changing room and got all the texts on my phone saying it had crossed the line [that I realised]."

Rangers - who have since been hit with a ten-point deduction for going into administration - have not returned to the summit since.

Sulley Muntari (AC MILAN 1-1 Juventus, Serie A, 2011-12)

February's top-of-the-table clash between Italian giants AC Milan and Juventus was billed as a classic but, as it transpired, the officials made all the headlines. After Antonio Nocerino had opened the scoring, Milan should have been two goals to the good when Sulley Muntari headed the ball over the line before Gianluigi Buffon could claw it out. However, even though referee Paolo Tagliavento had appeared to signal a goal, linesman Roberto Romagnoli reportedly told him via his earpiece that he was "certain" the ball had not crossed the line, and Milan were denied.

The incident sparked rage at San Siro, with Milan vice-president Adriano Galliani apparently launching verbal attacks on referees' association president Marcello Nicchi and Juventus boss Antonio Conte during the match. Milan's anger may have been mitigated when Alessandro Matri saw a goal wrongly chalked off for offside late on, but then he did equalise soon afterwards, Juve earned a share of the points, and the home team's tempers could not be cooled. "Maybe they made a mistake when drawing up the pitch," Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri said. "Perhaps the goal-line was a bit too thick."

Buffon did little to help when, claiming he hadn't realised the ball was over the line, he added that, even if he had, he "definitely wouldn't have told the referee". The comments provoked outrage, but the goalkeeper remained unrepentant: "I don't have to justify myself. People can write what they want."

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