Toulouse 3-2 Liverpool: The Reds suffer their first Europa League defeat of the season after a controversial late equalizer
Jarell Quansah’s goal to tie the game at 3-3 in the seventh minute of added time was ruled out because Alexis Mac Allister handled the ball.
Before Bulgarian referee Georgi Kabakov was called to the VAR screen – having already appeared to point to the center circle – Quansah slammed in from close range, sparking wild Liverpool celebrations and furious protestations from Toulouse.
Much earlier in the move, the ball had bounced off Mac Allister’s chest into his upper arm, which was ruled sufficient to disallow the goal.
Toulouse dominated for much of the game, winning 2-0 thanks to goals from Aron Donnum and Thijs Dallinga.
Liverpool equalized on a bizarre own goal by Cristian Casseres Jr, but Frank Magri restored the French side’s two-goal lead.
Substitute Diogo Jota then scored for Liverpool with two minutes of normal time remaining, and they thought they had earned a point with the game’s final kick before VAR intervened.
This is the latest VAR-related controversy in a turbulent week, though while Liverpool was denied a point, they had been far from their best.
Toulouse are 14th in Ligue 1 and one point above the relegation play-off places, having lost 5-1 at Anfield earlier in this group.
After withstanding intense pressure, they took the lead on 36 minutes thanks to a blunder by Kostas Tsimikas. Donnum robbed the Greek left-back, strode forward into the area, and found the back of the net with a shot that deflected off Quansah.
Dallinga, Toulouse’s leading scorer, added a second just before the hour mark, slamming into the bottom corner after a good team move.
A defensive blunder caused a high cross to bounce off Casseres’ back and into his own goal after he turned his back on the ball expecting a teammate to head it away.
They responded quickly, with Magri slamming in from close range after Caoimhin Kelleher palmed out a low cross.
Jota’s powerful low strike set up a tense finish, but Toulouse held on for a famous victory aided by the officials.
Liverpool are still well placed to qualify from Group E, having won their previous three Europa League games, and need only one more victory from their final two pool matches to at least reach the February play-off round.