Why controversial Middlesbrough goal against Manchester United was allowed to stand at Old Trafford

Middlesbrough booked their spot in the fifth round of the FA Cup with a dramatic penalty shootout win against Manchester United on Friday night.

The sides were level at 1-1 after 90 minutes at Old Trafford, with the score remaining unchanged after two halves of extra time.

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After seven perfect penalties each, Lee Peltier fired into the roof of the net with his spot-kick before Boro advanced as Anthony Elanga blazed his effort from 12 yards over the bar.

Jadon Sancho had put the hosts ahead in the first half before Matt Crooks levelled in controversial fashion midway through the second half.

Many thought the equaliser should have been disallowed as the ball struck the hand of Duncan Watmore in the build-up. The midfielder's arm was hit by the ball as he controlled a deep cross before he found Crooks who put the ball into the empty net.

The goal was allowed to stand as the handball from Watmore was deemed accidental. According to the current laws of the game, goals can only be ruled out for accidental handballs if a goal is scored directly from a hand or arm.

A goal would also be disallowed if an attacker scores themselves immediately after the ball has touched their hand or arm, even if accidental.

GOAL: Duncan Watmore, above, set up Matt Crooks for Middlesbrough's equaliser at Old Trafford. Picture: PA Wire.

With Watmore passing to Crooks, the goal could not be ruled out as soon as the referee and VAR adjudged the handball to be accidental.

The IFAB Laws of the Game for 2021-22 state that a handball can only be given if: "A player deliberately touches the ball with their hand/arm, for example moving the hand/arm towards the ball.

"A player touches the ball with their hand/arm when it has made their body unnaturally bigger. A player is considered to have made their body unnaturally bigger when the position of their hand/arm is not a consequence of, or justifiable by, the player’s body movement for that specific situation. By having their hand/arm in such a position, the player takes a risk of their hand/arm being hit by the ball and being penalised

"A player scores in the opponents' goal directly from their hand/arm, even if accidental, including by the goalkeeper or immediately after the ball has touched their hand/arm, even if accidental."

VICTORY: Middlesbrough players celebrate their FA Cup win at Old Trafford. Picture: PA Wire.