Cheeky Devil! Nani Scored Controversial Goal

Old friends Sir Alex Ferguson and Harry Redknapp were at loggerheads last night after Mark Clattenburg awarded Nani the most controversial goal of the season to seal Manchester United's 2-0 victory against Tottenham at Old Trafford.

The referee's decision to allow United winger Nani to tap home while Spurs goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes was preparing to take what he believed was a free-kick will feature in A Question Of Sport's 'What Happens Next?' round for years to come. Spurs boss Redknapp called it 'scandalous' and his furious players surrounded Clattenburg and his assistant both at the time and at the final whistle. But United manager Ferguson claimed the award of the goal was correct and that Gomes 'should have known better' and played to the whistle.

The match erupted into life after 84 minutes after Nani claimed a penalty as he was challenged by Younes Kaboul. Clattenburg waved the appeal away as a frustrated Nani lay on the floor with his outstretched hand placed on top of the ball. Gomes clearly saw that and, believing he had a free-kick, rolled the ball a few yards forward to take a freekick, only to see Nani suddenly jump up, run back and knock it into the net

The result was bedlam, particularly as Clattenburg's assistant had subsequently raised his flag. But despite Spurs players dragging the referee over to the touchline to consult with his linesman, the goal stood. Redknapp was incensed. "Nani put his hands on the ball. It was deliberate handball and the assistant referee sees it. It was a freekick to us but I don't think the referee saw it. I think Mark Clattenburg is a good ref but he made a mess of this. It was a scandalous decision and a farcical way to end the game. But the officials will come up with a story that will make it look right,' he said.

Ferguson had little sympathy with Redknapp, believing Nani had played to the whistle. "It was bizarre. No one knew at the time what was wrong. 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 keeper should know better. He's experienced. I thought he made a mess of it,' said the Scot.

Ironically, it was the second controversial decision to affect Clattenburg at Old Trafford in a match between United and Spurs. In 2005, he was in charge when a Pedro Mendes strike for Spurs was famously not given, despite clearly crossing the line. Yesterday's goal was reminiscent of Dirk Kuyt's strike against Sunderland earlier in the season, when Steve Bruce's players thought they were to take a free-kick.

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