Liverpool coach Brendan Rodgers was forced to come to the defense of star striker Luis Suarez after the Uruguayan’s controversial goal put the Reds into the FA Cup fourth round at the expense of fifth-tier club Mansfield Town. Suarez’s 19th goal of the season was assisted by a clear handball and would prove to be decisive as Liverpool walked away from the Field Mill a 2-1 winner.
After the game, Mansfield CEO Carolyn Radford said, “I have to say it is a little bit like it's been stolen from us,” adding that her players put in a “sterling” effort. “Whether [the handball is] deliberate or not, I really do feel that it should be sorted out.” Rodgers, however, was quick to defend Suarez, saying, “It’s not his job to own up” to the incident. "The ball has popped up, it's hit him and, after that, it is up to the officials what they do,” the Liverpool boss said. “I said to the fourth official straight away: 'Was that handball?' and he said they had seen it but they decided that it was not deliberate."
After the 59th minute goal, which made it 2-0 to the away team, fans subjected Suarez to cries of “cheat.” Mansfield goalkeeperAlan Marriott said the handball was so blatant that other Liverpool players had sympathized with him. ESPN commentator Jon Champion also called Suarez “a cheat” during his commentary, for which the broadcaster later issued an apology.