Top Five: Goal-line controversies

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Sunday's FA Cup semi-final clash between Tottenham and Chelsea will be remembered for only one thing.

Not the emphatic 5-1 scoreline that confirmed the Blues' place in May's Wembley final against Liverpool. Nor will it be remembered for Didier Drogba's thunderous 15-yard strike which broke the deadlock just before half-time.

No. The name on everybody's lips this morning, is that of Martin Atkinson; the referee who allowed a second Chelsea goal when a melee of players - obstructing the linesman's view - appeared to block Juan Mata's shot on the goal line.

Close at hand but with a bad angle, Atkinson awarded the goal. Meanwhile, television cameras showed the ball struck the fluorescent orange boots of Benoit Assou-Ekotto on the goal line and stayed out.

Spurs players appealed to the officials to reconsider their decision. But the howler stood.

Even Chelsea captain John Terry - who was in the middle of the goal line scramble that immediately followed the half-cleared corner – admitted they got it wrong.

"I honestly don't think it was over the line," he said after the game. "I thought it hit me, to be honest, but the linesman's seen it and given it."

The only error in Terry's assessment is that it wasn't the linesman, but the referee who made the decision.

Tottenham actually started the game brightly. Gareth Bale exposed Jose Bosingwa's lack of pace, while Scott Parker nullified the creative flair of Mata.

Club captain Ledley King looked to have been patched up sufficiently enough to deal with the threat posed by Drogba, until he switched sides to try his luck against William Gallas, with far more success.

After the second half sucker-punch that came as a result of the 'ghost-goal', Spurs chased the game bravely, but ultimately left themselves over-exposed at the back, and paid a heavy price.

Unsurprisingly, the incident has already prompted renewed calls for goal-line technology to be introduced by the powers that be, with FIFA under increasing pressure to consider a reform.

In light of the weekend's events, GMF reflects on five of the worst goal-line controversies in the modern era.

Pedro Mendes: Manchester United v Tottenham - Premier League, 2005


Tottenham found themselves on the wrong side of another goal-line decision when Pedro Mendes scored an audacious lobbed effort over Manchester United goalkeeper Roy Carroll at Old Trafford.

The retreating Carroll, caught off his line by the Portuguese midfielder, dived helplessly to try and claw the ball out of goal, but calamitously spilt it into the goal before palming away from danger.

The linesman - who was miles out of position, due to the surprise hoof upfield - had no way of determining whether the ball was over the line. No goal was awarded, and the match finished 0-0.

John Eustace own goal: Watford v Reading - Championship, 2008

One of the most baffling decisions to-date, was when Reading were gifted a goal by the officials against Watford at Vicarage Road. The footage still bemuses when trying to establish how the linesman and the referee thought the ball had crossed the line.

As Hornets midfielder John Eustace tussled with Royals forward Noel Hunt after a corner, the ball bounced over the byline, wide of the near post before Hunt hooked the ball back into the box.

Stuart Atwell appeared to signal for a goal-kick, before giving a goal after consulting experienced assistant Nigel Bannister. The game finished 2-2 after Reading were also awarded a late penalty. Certainly a day to forget for Watford fans.

Freddie Sears: Bristol City v Crystal Palace - Championship, 2009

With the scoreline at 0-0, West Ham loanee Freddie Sears stuck the ball away to give Crystal Palace the lead at Ashton Gate.

After wheeling away in celebration, the Eagles delight was short-lived after referee Rob Shoebridge awarded Bristol City a goal-kick, much to the dismay of visiting manager Neil Warnock.

The ball actually hit the back stanchion before bouncing straight out of the goal, and was adjudged to have fallen the wrong side of the post by the referee's assistant linesman.

Clint Hill: Bolton v QPR - Premier League, 2012

In last month's relegation 'six-pointer' at the Reebok Stadium, QPR defender Clint Hill thought he had given his side a valuable lead when he headed in a Joey Barton cross.

Trotters keeper Adam Bogdan scrambled behind his line to hook the ball out, and despite replays clearly showing the ball was in the net, assistant linesman Bob Pollock, assured referee Martin Atkinson (yes - that man again) that it had not crossed the line.

The home side later took the advantage, and despite Djibril Cisse restoring parity, Bolton striker Ivan Klasnic scored a late winner to give Owen Coyle's side all three points.

Frank Lampard: England v Germany, World Cup 2010

At the 2010 World Cup, in a crucial last-16 encounter, England's hopes of progression were dashed as they were eliminated by Germany, who outplayed and outclassed the Three Lions all over the pitch, on their way to a comfortable 4-1 victory.

However, with the score tentatively poised at 2-1 to Joachim Low's side, Frank Lampard unleashed a long-range shot, which hit the crossbar and bounced down behind German goalkeeper Manuel Neuer.

Everyone in the stadium and watching on TV, saw that the ball had crossed the goal line, and would have drawn England level in the tie. Everyone except Uruguayan referee Jorge Larrionda and his assistants that is, who waved play on, much to the frustration of the England players and fans, who were left wondering what might have been.

Where does yesterday's effort rank amongst these high profile goal line errors? What else did we miss? Share your favourite controversial goal-line decisions below:

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