Why was Kylian Mbappe's goal for France in Nations League final vs Spain allowed to stand?

At first look, the forward appeared offside as he sprinted past the Spain back line before scoring past Unai Simon

Kylian Mbappe's 80th-minute winner for France in the Nations League final against Spain on Sunday was fiercely protested by the opposition but ultimately allowed to stand.

Spain contended that Mbappe was offside before receiving the breakaway pass - and he certainly appeared to be at first glance - but referees determined defender Eric Garcia's touch of the ball as he tried to make a last-ditch interception was enough to put the attacker onside.

Spain captain Sergio Busquets said after his 2-1 defeat that the explanation he received "doesn't make sense".

What happened?

What has been said?

“To us on the field it (the second goal) looked offside," Busquets told El Chiringuito TV. "The referee told us that since Eric tried to play the ball, the offside was cancelled, but that doesn’t make sense.

"He just tried to intercept the ball, he didn’t play it and lose control of it.”

Added Eric Garcia: "It was clearly offside. The referee told me that I tried to play the ball. What should I do? Step aside and let him run? Apparently, this is the rule."

What else has been said?

Sky Sports pundit Jamie Redknapp said: "It's a really hard one to understand because from Spain's point of view, you're trying to keep a good line. Mbappe has got incredible pace but he gets the timing of his run wrong. It's the slightest of touches from Garcia.

"What the rules say is that it then becomes a second phase of play but what is Garcia supposed to do? Is he meant to just let it go even though he doesn't know what's behind him?

"You can see from the moment Theo Hernandez plays the ball, he's definitely offside. But because of this delicate touch from Garcia, it's a new phase of play. But for me it isn't. It's a really poor interpretation of the rule. I don't like it and it feels unfair.

"It's the slightest touch. It's not like he's tried to play it back to his goalkeeper. As a defence, you keep a good line and you have to somehow get a touch on it. If he put his flag up, no one would've asked any questions.

"It's so contentious. We want to see goals in football, of course we do. We're crying out for VAR to give more goals but this one feels really unfortunate for Spain in my point of view. I do feel sorry for the officials. 

"It's not VAR's fault... it's the rule. It's been around for around 18 months this interpretation but I don't feel we've seen enough examples of it in big games for it to be such a talking point but it's certainly won a final today so it'll become a talking point now for sure."

Further reading

Close