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The Toe Poke

Transfer Rater: Draxler to Liverpool

By ESPN Staff

Your Verdict: Lille's 'disgrace' and Craig Bellamy

Lille's near-walkout

A match that will be remembered for all the wrong reasons, the Champions League match between Lille and Man Utd will live long in the memory.

Not, however, for Ryan Giggs' cheeky free-kick that won the game, but instead for the reaction of the Lille players and coaching staff afterwards. Were they protesting against the decision? Or were they trying to stage a walk-out? Something that UEFA will surely be looking into in the near future.

There was also a serious danger of United fans being crushed against the perimeter fence. But what do you make of the situation? Should the police have acted differently? Did they just make it worse? And what can we do to make sure these things never happen again?

• Your Verdict

To be fair, I watch the game and I believe the referee should carry the blame for what happened. The goal was not in the spirit of fair play and if United and Ferguson in particular believes the result was good then it is very unfortunate. The game should be replayed.
Josphat Sirma

I don't understand why - after the game has been 'professional' for well over a century - the relevant ruling body (presumably FIFA) does not decree once and for all, whether or not play can only resume following the award of a free kick when the referee has blown his whistle. OK, there are arguments on either side, but I would not have thought it is beyond the wit of these highly paid administrators to sort the problem one way or another.
Charles Evans, Geneva

The unfortunate events in the stands aside; the biggest disgrace on the night Mr. Ferguson; was the fact Lille were denied a perfectly good goal and United were awarded a rubbish goal that would never have stood under any other referee! The game was a farce!
Donovan Marinheiro

Poor Lille. They got to experience what English Premiership teams opposing Manchester United deal with on a weekly basis - bias! The Lille manager captures this sentiment: 'We had had one goal disallowed and then a free-kick like that. It was a real shame. We didn't deserve that.' If there is one team in the world (including the English Premier League) that constantly gets bad refereeing decisions in their favour - it must be Manchester United. Why is there never a 'Juventus' type investigation on Manchester United? Why does Manchester United management never make a positive statement after such a decision?
Varsi Padayachee

This is the second time this year (and we're only into February) that I've seen a walk-out happen to teams that I fiercely support. The first was earlier this year in the ASEAN Cup Final first leg match between Thailand and Singapore. And now this between Lille and Manchester United.

Without having to bring into question the impartiality of Mr Ravichandran and Mr Braamhaar, the act of walking off the pitch in protest is, at best, childish. More likely, though, it brings the game into disrepute. Even at the schoolboy level, the most basic rule is to play to the referee's call. How the Thais managed to escape sanctions of any sort is beyond me, but if Lille as a football club is going to get away unscathed, then it is definitely going to send yet another wrong message to the rest of the footballing world.
John Wu, London

Feyenoord have been kicked out of the UEFA cup this season due to crowd trouble. Here in this game, we have seen that, Lille as a club, cannot entertain big matches. They don't have the necessary experience to do so. The security was poor and due to that peoples lives were in danger. And now they blame that on Manchester United producing fake tickets! This is cheap from Lille officials. Their head of security said that there were not many people in that stand and now Lille officials are saying that there were fake tickets, hence the reason the stand was overcrowded.

The French police overreacted and fired tear gas against many innocent fans. The Lille officials were completely disorganised in handling such a big game it was shocking. UEFA need to ban Lille until they can host a game in a decent stadium not a cage!

Lille's (correctly) disallowed goal was a blatant push and it was obvious from their players' lack of protest when the ref disallowed it that it was the right decision. And every commentator that I've heard, agrees that the ref made the correct decision. As for the free-kick, what about all the kicks that are taken elsewhere on the field without waiting for the ref's whistle?

The rule is pretty clear as far as I can tell - if a player wants the ref to make sure that the opposition is 10 yards from the ball, he asks for it and has to wait for the whistle. If not, he can play whenever he wants to and run the risk of the ball being intercepted. What's the problem? The only disgraceful, unsporting actions last night were those of the Lille players and management.
Ferdi, South Africa

Lille should be ashamed of themselves, not so much for walking off or poor crowd control, but for a simple mistake on a large stage. Giggs did absolutely the right thing. Any grammer school player knows you must stand a defender in front of the ball so that a quick kick can not be taken like this.
Frank dal Santo

Lille players did not attempt to leave the pitch (even though it looked like it). In the French league, when a team disagrees with a referee's decision, the captain needs to make a formal complaint to the assistant the first time the game stops after the incident on which they wish to complain. If they do not do so, no legal action can be taken any further. The coach and the manager were therefore asking for the captain to come and make the complaint. The fact that other players came to the touchline made it look like they were leaving, but I feel they were simply joining to give their version of the incident/drink/speak to the manager.
François Paugam

Lille should be removed from further competition. Not only was this a serious breach of Champions league etiquette and policy, a dangerous situation occurred during the evening that could have resulted in a catastrophic outcome. Teams need to understand that on entering the champions league, it requires the very highest standards of professionalism and planning.
Bill, Sydney

Bellamy inspires Liverpool triumph

With the wrath of nay-saying Scousers ringing in his ears Bellamy answered his critics in wonderfully poetic style; scoring a deserved equaliser at the Nou Camp (celebrating with a golf swing) before setting up none other than Riise to drive home the winner in the what will go down as a famous 2-1 victory.

But still the jury is out. Will the fiery Welshman stay or go?

• Your Verdict

Come on, Bellamy is our best striker, I don't see Benitez letting him go over the summer. Surely the goal he laid on for Riise against Barcelona must vindicate him. We all know that incidents involving high profile sport starts are often exaggerated. He has accepted his punishment, provided a positive result on the pitch, quick, deadly, passionate and I wouldn't doubt he is one of the first names down on the Liverpool team sheet.
Jordan in New Zealand

Liverpool now have the chance to do themselves a big favour and get rid of Bellamy once and for all.
Paolo Campanini

Ask any ex. pro and they will tell you that there are bust-ups between players and staff from time to time. They are usually minor in nature and I'm sure that this is a case of an incident blown totally out of proportion by the media. Footballers are only human and they will have their arguments just the same as you and I. The problem is that in the soccer business at that level the players are constantly under the microscope.

As for Bellamy, he has a less than enviable disciplinary record and no matter what happens blame will almost certainly be aimed at him. However, the Liverpool team had a job to do and they went out and did it admirably and were thoroughly professional. Ironically, it was Bellamy who provided many of the reasons that Liverpool won the game, and I'm sure that his 'golf swing' celebration was a jibe aimed at the beloved media. I am sure that Craig will be a better person and player because of this and will go on to play for the Reds for some time yet.
Nick Hopwood

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