Sheffield United join ranks of football’s famous ghost goals

Sheffield United were denied victory at Aston Villa by a technical fault as the Premier League resumed with huge controversy.

The Blades were forced to settle for a 0-0 draw after goal-line technology failed on Wednesday, in the top flight's first game for three months after the coronavirus pandemic halted sport.

Goalkeeper Orjan Nyland carried Oliver Norwood's free kick across the line but a goal was not awarded.

Referee Michael Oliver's watch did not signal a goal and play continued with the video assistant referee failing to intervene.

Victory would have taken Sheffield United into the top five and the Blades will have to wait to see how much the error will cost them in the race for Europe.

They struggled to impose themselves at an empty Villa Park though and Dean Henderson denied John McGinn, with Keinan Davis heading a fine first-half chance over as Villa missed the chance to climb out of the relegation zone.

Dean Smith's side remain second bottom and a point from safety but, after dominating for long spells, will considering it a huge missed chance in their basement battle.

Every player and official took a knee before kicking off in a huge and striking show of support to the Black Lives Matter movement.

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Aston Villa v Sheffield United
BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - JUNE 17: Orjan Nyland of Aston Villa fumbles and pulls the ball from being the line but Referee Michael Oliver calls a no goal as the goal line technology fails during the Premier League match between Aston Villa and Sheffield United at Villa Park on June 17, 2020 in Birmingham, United Kingdom. (Photo by Matthew Ashton - AMA/Getty Images)
BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - JUNE 17: Orjan Nyland of Aston Villa fumbles and pulls the ball from being the line but Referee Michael Oliver calls a no goal as the goal line technology fails during the Premier League match between Aston Villa and Sheffield United at Villa Park on June 17, 2020 in Birmingham, United Kingdom. (Photo by Matthew Ashton - AMA/Getty Images)
BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - JUNE 17: Orjan Nyland of Aston Villa pulls the ball from being the line but Referee Michael Oliver call a no goal as the goal line technology fails during the Premier League match between Aston Villa and Sheffield United at Villa Park on June 17, 2020 in Birmingham, United Kingdom. (Photo by Matthew Ashton - AMA/Getty Images)
Aston Villa's Norwegian goalkeeper Orjan Nyland (3rd L) falls back into the goal holding the ball as the Sheffield United players celebrate a goal which wasn't awarded during the English Premier League football match between Aston Villa and Sheffield United at Villa Park in Birmingham, central England on June 17, 2020. - The Premier League makes its eagerly anticipated return today after 100 days in lockdown but behind closed doors due to coronavirus restrictions. (Photo by Paul ELLIS / POOL / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No video emulation. Social media in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No use in betting publications, games or single club/league/player publications. / (Photo by PAUL ELLIS/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Sheffield United's English-born Scottish striker Oliver McBurnie (C) reacts to English referee Michael Oliver (3rd L) at half-time during the English Premier League football match between Aston Villa and Sheffield United at Villa Park in Birmingham, central England on June 17, 2020. - The Premier League makes its eagerly anticipated return today after 100 days in lockdown but behind closed doors due to coronavirus restrictions. (Photo by CARL RECINE / POOL / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No video emulation. Social media in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No use in betting publications, games or single club/league/player publications. / (Photo by CARL RECINE/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - JUNE 17: Oliver McBurnie and Jack Robinson of Sheffield United appeal for a goal which is later denied as Orjan Nyland of Aston Villa catches the ball during the Premier League match between Aston Villa and Sheffield United at Villa Park on June 17, 2020 in Birmingham, England. (Photo by Carl Recine/Pool via Getty Images)
BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - JUNE 17: Ollie Norwood of Sheffield United speaks to match referee Michael Oliver during the Premier League match between Aston Villa and Sheffield United at Villa Park on June 17, 2020 in Birmingham, England. (Photo by Carl Recine/Pool via Getty Images)
BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - JUNE 17: Ollie Norwood of Sheffield United and Luke Freeman of Sheffield United confront the match officials after the game about a goal that was not awarded to Sheffield United during the Premier League match between Aston Villa and Sheffield United at Villa Park on June 17, 2020 in Birmingham, United Kingdom. (Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images)
BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - JUNE 17: A detailed view of the NHS logo is seen on the front of an Aston Villa players shirt in support of the work they have been doing throughout the COVID-19 pandemic during the Premier League match between Aston Villa and Sheffield United at Villa Park on June 17, 2020 in Birmingham, United Kingdom. (Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images)
BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - JUNE 17: Black Lives Matter slogan is seen on the back of Tyrone Mings of Aston Villa shirt during the Premier League match between Aston Villa and Sheffield United at Villa Park on June 17, 2020 in Birmingham, England. (Photo by Carl Recine/Pool via Getty Images)
BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - JUNE 17: Billy Sharp of Sheffield United, along with his teammates and opposition, 'Take a Knee' in support of the Black Lives Matter movement after the whistle to kick off the match is blown during the Premier League match between Aston Villa and Sheffield United at Villa Park on June 17, 2020 in Birmingham, United Kingdom. (Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images)
BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - JUNE 17: Sander Berge of Sheffield United takes a knee in support of the Black Lives Matter movement prior to the Premier League match between Aston Villa and Sheffield United at Villa Park on June 17, 2020 in Birmingham, England. (Photo by Paul Ellis/Pool via Getty Images)
Aston Villa's English striker Keinan Davis (C) takes a knee beside other players during the English Premier League football match between Aston Villa and Sheffield United at Villa Park in Birmingham, central England on June 17, 2020. - The Premier League makes its eagerly anticipated return today after 100 days in lockdown but behind closed doors due to coronavirus restrictions. (Photo by Shaun Botterill / POOL / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No video emulation. Social media in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No use in betting publications, games or single club/league/player publications. / (Photo by SHAUN BOTTERILL/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - JUNE 17: General view inside the empty stadium as Aston Villa and Sheffield United players, along with the match officials 'Take a Knee' in support of the Black Lives Matter movement in the opening seconds of the game during the Premier League match between Aston Villa and Sheffield United at Villa Park on June 17, 2020 in Birmingham, United Kingdom. (Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images)
A staff member disinfects a ball prior to the English Premier League football match between Aston Villa and Sheffield United at Villa Park in Birmingham, central England on June 17, 2020. - The Premier League makes its eagerly anticipated return today after 100 days in lockdown but behind closed doors due to coronavirus restrictions. (Photo by CARL RECINE / POOL / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No video emulation. Social media in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No use in betting publications, games or single club/league/player publications. / (Photo by CARL RECINE/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
A staff member disinfects a corner flag post during the English Premier League football match between Aston Villa and Sheffield United at Villa Park in Birmingham, central England on June 17, 2020. - The Premier League makes its eagerly anticipated return today after 100 days in lockdown but behind closed doors due to coronavirus restrictions. (Photo by CARL RECINE / various sources / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No video emulation. Social media in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No use in betting publications, games or single club/league/player publications. / (Photo by CARL RECINE/AFP via Getty Images)
BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - JUNE 17: A general view of the score board at Villa Park, home stadium of Aston Villa during the Premier League match between Aston Villa and Sheffield United at Villa Park on June 17, 2020 in Birmingham, United Kingdom. (Photo by Matthew Ashton - AMA/Getty Images)
BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - JUNE 17: Chris Wilder, Manager of Sheffield United and Dean Smith, Manager of Aston Villa interact after the Premier League match between Aston Villa and Sheffield United at Villa Park on June 17, 2020 in Birmingham, England. (Photo by Paul Ellis/Pool via Getty Images)
BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - JUNE 17: Members of the Aston Villa medical team are seen walking around the pitch while wearing protective equipment during the Premier League match between Aston Villa and Sheffield United at Villa Park on June 17, 2020 in Birmingham, England. (Photo by Carl Recine/Pool via Getty Images)
Sheffield United's English manager Chris Wilder (C) talks to his players during a drinks break during the English Premier League football match between Aston Villa and Sheffield United at Villa Park in Birmingham, central England on June 17, 2020. - The Premier League makes its eagerly anticipated return today after 100 days in lockdown but behind closed doors due to coronavirus restrictions. (Photo by Paul ELLIS / POOL / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No video emulation. Social media in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No use in betting publications, games or single club/league/player publications. / (Photo by PAUL ELLIS/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - JUNE 17: Aston Villa fans are seen on the LED board during the Premier League match between Aston Villa and Sheffield United at Villa Park on June 17, 2020 in Birmingham, England. (Photo by Paul Ellis/Pool via Getty Images)
BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - JUNE 17: Villa Park is seen with closed gates during the Premier League match between Aston Villa and Sheffield United at Villa Park on June 17, 2020 in Birmingham, England. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)
A picture shows a bottle of hand sanitiser at an entrance to the pitch during the English Premier League football match between Aston Villa and Sheffield United at Villa Park in Birmingham, central England on June 17, 2020. - The Premier League makes its eagerly anticipated return today after 100 days in lockdown but behind closed doors due to coronavirus restrictions. (Photo by CARL RECINE / POOL / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No video emulation. Social media in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No use in betting publications, games or single club/league/player publications. / (Photo by CARL RECINE/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - JUNE 17: The LED scoreboard is seen inside the stadium during the Premier League match between Aston Villa and Sheffield United at Villa Park on June 17, 2020 in Birmingham, England. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)
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Here, the PA news agency looks at other 'ghost goals', some awarded, some not.

England v West Germany, 1966

Arguably the most famous contentious goal in English history, there are still question marks over whether Sir Geoff Hurst's second goal in the 1966 World Cup final crossed the line. With the game level at 2-2 in extra-time, Hurst collected a cross from Alan Ball and sent an effort crashing onto the underside of the bar. Linesman Tofiq Bahramov indicated the ball had crossed the line, though it is unclear from footage, and the referee Gottfried Dienst awarded the goal. It gave England the lead, with Hurst completing his hat-trick soon after.

England v Germany, 2010

Frank Lampard was denied a clear goal in the 2010 World Cup against Germany

The Three Lions were on the other end of a decision in the 2010 World Cup, though this was nowhere near as marginal. In the last-16 encounter in South Africa, Fabio Capello's men were trailing 2-1 when, on the stroke of half-time, Frank Lampard's shot from the edge of the area hit the crossbar and obviously looked to bounce over the line by a couple of yards. The linesman was not level with play and the referee was unsighted so no goal was awarded, to the dismay of England. Replays confirmed the ball had clearly crossed the line and the Three Lions went on to lose 4-1.

Liverpool v Chelsea, 2005

Luis Garcia's goal against Chelsea took Liverpool to the  Champions League final

Luis Garcia scored a controversial goal to help Liverpool past Chelsea in the 2005 Champions League semi-final, with the ball seemingly not going over the line before being cleared. Blues boss Jose Mourinho described it as a "ghost goal" as the Reds won the tie 1-0. Liverpool went on to win the competition after producing a stunning comeback from 3-0 down in the final against AC Milan in Istanbul, winning on penalties.

Watford v Reading, 2008

Stuart Attwell was embroiled in controversy in his early days as a Football League referee

One of the most bizarre goals ever awarded saw fresh-faced referee Stuart Atwell at the heart of the controversy. In a Championship game, Reading had a corner which hit Watford defender John Eustace and bounced well wide of the goal. It was so wide that a Reading player stretched to keep the ball in play and a scramble ensued. Afterwards, linesman Nigel Bannister called Atwell over and – duped by an optical illusion – insisted the ball had gone into the net when it deflected off Eustace. There was carnage as Watford protested the decision, with manager Aidy Bothroyd sent to the stands. The game ended 2-2.

Hoffenheim v Leverkusen, 2013

Only the most bizarre set of circumstances saw Stefan Kiessling awarded a goal for Leverkusen in a 2013 Bundesliga match. With the visitors leading 1-0 at Hoffenheim, Kiessling jumped highest from a corner and sent a header goalwards. On first viewing it looked a routine goal, beating the goalkeeper at the near post. However, replays showed that the ball hit the side-netting, with Kiessling holding his head in disappointment, but the ball went through a hole in the net and ended up in the goal. Kiessling tried telling the referee that it did not go in but the goal stood and Leverkusen went on to win 2-1.

Manchester United v Tottenham, 2004

Pedro Mendes was denied a winning goal at Old Trafford by some poor officiating

Tottenham rarely win at Old Trafford, so they could have done with a bit of fortune in 2004, but they were found wanting. With the game drifting to a 0-0 draw, Spurs midfielder Pedro Mendes spotted United goalkeeper Roy Carroll off his line and tried an audacious shot from near the halfway line. A back-pedalling Carroll was in position to catch the ball but inexplicably let it slip through his hands and it landed a couple of yards over the line. The match officials were nowhere near level and were fooled by Carroll's poker-face reaction, having scooped the ball away.

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