• FA Cup

Rodgers defends Suarez after handball

ESPN staff
January 6, 2013

Brendan Rodgers admitted Luis Suarez's match-winning goal should not have stood, but defended his striker after Liverpool's victory at Mansfield.

The Reds set up an FA Cup fourth round clash with Oldham Athletic after they weathered a late storm to triumph 2-1 at the One Call Stadium.

Daniel Sturridge scored on his debut to give Liverpool the lead inside seven minutes, before Suarez doubled their advantage after coming on as a second-half substitute.

However, the Uruguyan appeared to handle the ball past Stags keeper Alan Marriott before firing into an empty net. Boos echoed around the stadium after the goal was allowed to stand, and although the hosts pulled a goal back through Matt Green they could not find an equaliser to force a replay at Anfield.

Rodgers insisted it was not Suarez's place to say he had handled the ball, and the officials should have spotted the offence.

"I have just seen it again and there is no doubt it was handball," Rodgers told ESPN. "I think what the referee and the officials were looking was that it wasn't deliberate, which it clearly wasn't.

"I spoke to the fourth official after the goal was given and asked him if it was handball, because I couldn't see, and he said it was. So obviously it is unfortunate for Mansfield and lucky for us that we got the goal."

When asked if Suarez should have acknowledged his misdemeanour, Rodgers replied: "It doesn't really happen in football, to be honest, you don't see it [happen] and it's not Luis' job to do that. He's gone in there, it hasn't been a deliberate handball - [the ball] pitched up and hit his hand.

"That's up to the officials to deem. That's why they get paid and that's why they are professional officials. Andre Marriner I thought was excellent today along with his officials. It's one of those things that was unfortunate."

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