Manchester City defeated Newcastle United 2-0 in a controversial and nasty match at St James' Park on Sunday.
The talking point of the match was Mike Jones' decision to disallow Cheick Tiote's goal in the first-half when Newcastle were trailing the visitors.
This article analyzes that (disallowed) goal and argues why Jones' decision was the right one.
Yoan Gouffran's Offside Position
According to the FIFA rule book, a player is an offside position if "he is nearer to his opponents' goal line than both the ball and the second-last opponent".
From the picture below, it is clear that Yoan Gouffran was in an offside position when Tiote kicked the ball in the build up to the goal.
When is Being Offside an Offence?
A player in an offside position is committing an offence if "at the moment the ball touches or is played by one of his team, he is, in the opinion of the referee involved in active play by (i) interfering with play or (ii) interfering with an opponent or (iii) gaining an advantage by being in that position".
The reason why Jones didn't let the goal stand was because Gouffran was "interfering with an opponent" (Joe Hart)
And City manager Manuel Pellegrini had no doubt the referee was right.
"I don't understand Newcastle's frustration, because it was an offside goal. He (Gouffran) was offside and disturbed Joe Hart," Pellegrini said after the game.
Now let's take a look what interfering with an opponent exactly means.
"The International Football Association Board defines it as (1) preventing an opponent from playing or being able to play the ball by obstructing the opponent’s line of vision or movements or (2) by making a gesture or movement which, in the opinion of the referee, deceives or distracts an opponent."
Gouffran didn't do anything to distract Hart, but he obstructed the Englishman's line of vision and movements.
We can see below, Gouffran is positioned to the left of Hart and is offside.
When Tiote hit the ball, Hart moved to his left, in the direction where the ball was going (look carefully from 0:07 to 0:08).
Gouffran was in very close proximity to Hart. Moreover, if one goes through the replay of the goal, Gouffran made no attempt to get out of the six-yard box and recover- he was loitering in there.
As Hart attempted to make a save, his movements and vision were obstructed owing to Gouffran's presence. It meant that any slim chance Hart had of miraculously saving the shot was diminished. Hypothetically, I can say from one percent to zero percent. Gouffran's position delayed Hart's reaction to the shot, albeit by a fraction of a second, but the point is, Newcastle gained from a player being in an offside position.
People are arguing that when the ball was kicked, Gouffran was not in line of Hart's vision. True he wasn't, but Gouffran's offside position denied Hart from "playing" as the latter's ability to save the shot was restricted. Gouffran's absence would have given Hart a millisecond more. Yet, that could have been the difference between a spectacular save and Newcastle's goal.
Playing Down Alan Pardew's View
"The guy's hit a goal that Joe Hart is just not going to save."
First of all, the question whether Hart would have saved the shot is completely irrelevant. The question is did Gouffran prevent Hart from attempting to save the shot? Yes, he did. A baffling statement by Pardew.
"It goes through a number of bodies but his (Hart's) vision is not impaired (by Gouffran)."
"The guy was recovering from an offside position he didn’t want anything to do with the play."
Gouffran was not showing any intention to recover from the offside position.