14 Mar 2010

Players leap to defence of Payne after controversial goal

6:03 pm on 14 March 2010

Sydney FC and Wellington players leapt to the defence of sky blues' teenage striker Chris Payne after he found himself the centre of the A-League's own handball controversy following Saturday night's preliminary final.

Payne came under fire from Phoenix coach Ricki Herbert after Sydney's 4-2 win at the Sydney Football Stadium, in which he came off the bench to score twice to help his side into the grand final.

The young striker's second goal, which put Sydney up 2-1, appeared to be scored off his forearm but was allowed by referee Peter Green.

Herbert labelled the goal "three times worse" than other famous handball incidents in world football such as Diego Maradona's "Hand of God" goal and Theirry Henry's more recent 'Hand of Frog" goal for France.

He also questioned Payne's ethics and professionalism, but fellow players took a more understanding view of the incident.

Strike partner Alex Brosque said the goal was clearly accidental and just one of those things.

Wellington captain Andrew Durante admitted it was a tough one for the player, reiterating that the referee and linesman need to be good enough to pick up on such offences.

Phoenix keeper Liam Reddy says most players would probably do the same thing and it would be unfair to point the finger at the goal-scorer, instead of the referee and linesman.