Atalanta win again after handball rule reaches new extreme

(Reuters) - Atalanta continued their winning streak with a 1-0 victory with a penalty from Luis Muriel at 10-man Cagliari on Sunday but only after the Sardinians had a goal disallowed for an almost imperceptible and accidental handball early in the game.

Cagliari striker Giovanni Simeone thought he had given his team the lead, and scored for the fifth game in a row, when he curled the ball past keeper Marco Sportiello after 11 minutes.

There were no protests from Atalanta who were waiting to restart when the referee indicated a VAR review which showed that the ball may have faintly brushed Simeone’s hand in the build-up.

It did not change the direction of the ball and Simeone’s hand was not outstretched. However, the new rule states that any handball in the build-up to a goal means it has to be ruled out.

“The disallowed goal is absurd even though it’s in the rules,” said Cagliari coach Walter Zenga. “We are disappointed because it is a decision that goes against the spirit of the game, it’s not a rule that belongs in football.”

It got worse for Cagliari in the 27th minute when Andrea Carboni pushed Ruslan Malinovskyi, was sent off for a second bookable offence and conceded a penalty which Muriel converted.

Atalanta were able to pace themselves after that although Cagliari twice came close to equalising near the end.

Atalanta, who have won their last 10 games in all competitions, stayed fourth with 63 points and moved within one point of Inter Milan while Cagliari are 11th.

Writing by Brian Homewood, editing by Pritha Sarkar