Sunderland’s Steve Bruce frustrated by joke opening goal

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Steve Bruce accused referee Stuart Attwell of gifting Liverpool a “joke” opening goal during Saturday’s 2-2 draw with Sunderland at Anfield.

Dirk Kuyt put the Reds ahead in the fifth minute after latching onto Fernando Torres‘ pass to sweep the ball home.

However, it was a controversial lead as Torres had seized on Michael Turner‘s free-kick to run unchallenged on goal.

Turner nonchalantly back-heeled the free-kick back towards Simon Mignolet in what he later described as a pass back for his goalkeeper to restart play.

But Attwell agreed with Torres and Kuyt’s assertion that Turner himself had restarted play.

“The first goal is a joke. The only person who knew it wasn’t intentionally taken was possibly the referee,” said Bruce.

“However I watched him and he went to his whistle three or four times, he even looked for the linesman.

“Everybody in the ground knew Turner was kicking it back to where the free-kick should have been taken from.

“But to respond the way we did I couldn’t be more pleased.”

Two goals from Darren Bent – the first from the penalty spot – had put the Black Cats ahead at Anfield only for Steven Gerrard to rescue a point for the home side.

Attwell has found himself back in the spotlight again but a post-match statement from Professional Game Match Officials backed their controversial referee.

“According to the Laws of the Game, having stopped the game for any infringement the referee is required to ‘indicate the restart of the match’,” explained the statement.

“In practice, in the majority of cases, referees indicate for the re-start by gesturing to players to take the kick. These gestures can be minimal.

“For the more important ‘ceremonial’ free-kicks, which also involve control of the defensive wall, referees can indicate by using the whistle. However, there is no requirement by law to use the whistle to make the indication.

“The ball is then in play when it is kicked and moves. So, in this case, the ball was in play as soon as it is kicked by a Sunderland player.

“Also, the laws state that the free-kick must be taken from the place where the infringement occurred. Again, in this case, the referee correctly determined that the free-kick was played from the right place.”

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