Rodgers backs Suarez over handball incident

Luis Suarez, centre left, appears to handle the ball as he scores against Mansfield Town. Photo: PA

Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers feels the onus was not on Luis Suarez to own up to the handball that helped the Reds reach the fourth round of the FA Cup.

Rodgers was at pains to point out in the wake of yesterday's clash at non-league Mansfield that Suarez did not deliberately handball what proved to be the all-important second goal in the 59th minute after new £12million forward Daniel Sturridge had scored on his debut in the seventh.

Television replays, however, proved otherwise because after goalkeeper Alan Marriott saved Suarez's left-foot shot, the Uruguayan then used his right wrist to beat the ball down over the line.

In front of the jubilant Liverpool fans, and whilst everyone within the Stags team appealed to referee Andre Marriner and his assistant, Suarez then kissed his offending wrist.

It meant Matt Green's 79th-minute strike proved to be a consolation rather than an equaliser that would have earned the Blue Square Bet Premier side a lucrative replay at Anfield.

Given Suarez's villainous reputation, he could arguably have redeemed himself by admitting to his obvious infraction, but Rodgers can see no reason why he should have done so.

"It's not his job to do that," said Rodgers, who was forced to field a barrage of questions regarding the incident and Suarez after the game.

"The ball hit him, and it is the job of the referee to determine whether it was deliberate or not.

"They clearly knew it had hit his hand because within a split second the fourth official had said it had hit his hand, so he's obviously had dialogue with Andre, and he clearly felt it wasn't deliberate.

"If it was someone else we wouldn't be discussing it to this detail, but sometimes these sorts of things will follow players.

"I only like to talk about his talent and nothing what happened in this game, the ball hitting him on the hand, is his fault.

"If it was deemed deliberate then the referee would have disallowed the goal, but he didn't, so the goal counts.

"We missed many more chances to put the game to bed, so we got a bit of luck there. It's something we'll take and move on."

Marriott, who had a clear view of the handball given his save in the build up, described Suarez's goal as "a sickener".

"You saw everyone's reaction," said Marriott.

"Their players didn't celebrate, and the manner in which he kicked the ball into the net afterwards suggested he thought it was going to be disallowed, but the officials missed it.

"It happens. It's football, I don't think you can call him a cheat. I know a lot of people have done in the past.

"But every man, from a Sunday League football team to the Premier League, is going to do that and if it gives you an advantage and you can get away with it, then unfortunately that's football."

Town boss Paul Cox, who turned 41 yesterday two days after getting married, was more unhappy with the officials than Suarez.

"I don't want to say anything bad about him because he is a fabulous talent, and if the shoe was on the other foot then we would have taken it," said Cox.

"But when you've officials at that level, you expect them to pick up on it, but they are only human."

Mansfield chief executive Carolyn Radford claimed her club had been robbed of a lucrative replay by Suarez's goal.

Quoted in the Guardian, Radford said: "I've absolutely enjoyed the day but I have to say it is a little bit like it's been stolen from us.

"Whether it's deliberate or not, I really do feel that it should be sorted out. We are a very good side and we put up a sterling effort. We are very proud of ourselves and it's very unfortunate that referees and officials can't pick up these things.

"It should be clarified and sorted out as soon as possible because obviously it wasn't in our favour and we should be going through to a replay at least."