Raheem Sterling offside: Former referee Mark Halsey blasts Paul Tierney for awarding Manchester City goal vs Watford

Former Premier League referee Mark Halsey has told talkSPORT Paul Tierney made the incorrect decision to allow Raheem Sterling’s opening goal in Manchester City’s defeat of Watford.

City moved four points clear at the top of the Premier League table on Saturday evening with a routine 3-1 defeat of the Hornets, with Sterling netting a hat-trick to put the pressure on title rivals Liverpool.

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Sterling capped a fine performance with a hat-trick – but his opening goal should have been ruled out

Few can begrudge City their win given they dominated proceedings at the Etihad, but there is no doubt Sterling’s opening goal was scored in controversial circumstances.

The England forward was clearly in an offside position when played through by Sergio Aguero, before Daryl Janmaat cleared the ball onto Sterling as he shot towards goal.

The linesman ruled out the goal for offside having seen Sterling was beyond the last defender, but referee Tierney overruled his assistant after a lengthy chat on the sidelines.

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Tierney overruled his linesman to award Sterling’s goal

Tierney’s decision has been widely criticised since, with Pep Guardiola, the Manchester City manager, even apologising for the illegal goal being awarded.

And Halsey, who refereed in the Premier League for over a decade, criticised Tierney LIVE on talkSPORT.

He told Sunday’s Weekend Sports Breakfast show: “As a referee, all day long, it that flag goes up for an offside offence I am blowing and giving the offside.

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Halsey is certain Tierney’s decision was incorrect

“I think Paul Tierney’s tried to be too clever. He’s guessed it wrongly.

“Sterling is always offside [in this incident].

“It doesn’t necessarily mean being in an offside position you are committing an offence, its when you become involved in active play.

“For me, that met the criteria yesterday and Raheem Sterling should have been flagged offside.”

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