Nani scores contentious goal as United beats Spurs
Nani scored a contentious goal to round off Manchester United's 2-0 victory over Tottenham on Saturday, with referee Mark Clattenburg overruling his assistant amid furious protests from both English Premier League teams.
United was already leading through Nemanja Vidic's 31st-minute header when Nani had a penalty appeal turned down in the closing minutes after bursting into the Tottenham penalty area.
The Portugal winger was then seen handling the ball while lying on the turf. But while Spurs goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes lined up what he believed to be a free kick, Nani nipped in front of the Brazilian and prodded the ball into an empty net.
The goal was initially ruled out by Clattenburg's assistant Simon Beck, angering the United players, but after the officials ruled that the whistle had never been blown, Gomes led the Spurs protests.
"It's a handball, he's deliberately handled it and it should have been a booking," Spurs manager Harry Redknapp said. "Everyone has seen him do it so we think it's a free kick, it's just the referee that doesn't see it ...
"You can't lie on the floor and pull the ball back just because you've got the hump because you didn't get a penalty. It was a scandalous decision and the referee has made a mess of it all."
Clattenburg was also the referee when Pedro Mendes' goal for Spurs was ruled out at Old Trafford in 2005 despite goalkeeper Roy Carroll clearly clawing the ball back into play from well over the goal-line to protect a 0-0 draw.
The win on Saturday kept United five points behind leader Chelsea, while Tottenham was a further five points behind.
United captain Rio Ferdinand accepted that it was tough on Spurs after Nani used his hand.
"Handball but gotta play to the whistle-harsh but true," Ferdinand tweeted minutes after the final whistle.
United manager Alex Ferguson blamed Gomes for the confusion.
"It was bizarre. No one knew at the time what was wrong," Ferguson said. "One minute the goalkeeper had the ball in his hands and next it's in his net. Nani looked back and looked at the referee and the referee said play on, so what can he do but put the ball in the net.
"You can look at the referee and look at the linesmen and blame them, but the goalkeeper should know better. He's an experienced goalkeeper. I thought he made a mess of it."