Late drama in Europa League as Rennes' equalizer overturned due to obscure free kick rule

Posted : 15 December 2023

Rennes manager Julien Stephan expressed a rollercoaster of emotions as his team experienced a late equalizer being overturned in Thursday's Europa League clash against Villarreal due to an obscure football rule. Enzo le Fee's free kick in the 11th minute of stoppage time appeared to result in a goal when Lorenz Assignon netted the rebound after the ball struck the woodwork. Despite Rennes players jubilantly celebrating, VAR intervened, disallowing the goal as per the little-known rule that the player who takes a free kick cannot be the first to touch the ball again.


The dramatic turn of events unfolded as Le Fee, after hitting the woodwork, played the ball back into the box before Assignon's strike. The disallowed goal led to disappointment among Rennes players, with many initially believing it was ruled out for offside. Julien Stephan admitted to being aware of a similar rule for penalties but was surprised to discover its application to free kicks.


Villarreal's victory in the match propelled them to the top of Group F, securing direct qualification for the Europa League round of 16. Rennes, finishing second, now faces a playoff against a team dropping down from the Champions League to secure their spot in the next stage, highlighting the significant impact of an overturned goal and an unexpected football regulation.


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