Rangers hopes of reaching the Champions League group stages suffered a damaging setback as they succumbed to a 2-0 defeat against Union Saint-Gilloise in Belgium.
Giovanni van Bronckhorst stated his team were “lucky” to escape with just a two-goal deficit as goals from Teddy Tuema and Dante Vanzeir handed the home side a cushion heading into the second leg at Ibrox next week.
The Light Blues miserable evening was compounded with 15 minutes remaining when Bosnian referee Irfan Peljto awarded Union a controversial penalty after Connor Goldson was penalised for a handball.
The centre-back could do little to prevent a shot from ricoheting off team-mate James Sands onto his arm.
The referee was asked to consult VAR and decided the incident merited a spot-kick with Goldson also receiving a yellow card.
However, despite their turgid display throughout the 90 minutes, the penalty decision was one aspect of the match Rangers will feel harshly treated by due to the lack of intent from the Englishman.
According to IFAB rules, it is a handball offence if a player “touches the ball with their hand/arm when it has made their body unnaturally bigger.
“A player is considered t have made their body unnaturally bigger when the position of their hand/arm is not a consequence of, or justifiable by, the player’s body movement for that specific situation.
“By having their hand/arm in such a position, the player takes a risk of their hand/arm being hit by the ball and being penalised.”
IFAB also notes exceptions, including if “the player’s arm is is already extended when there is not expectation of the ball coming at, or near, the player from a team-mate”, as is the case in question.
The ball struck Sands, causing it to spin up and strike Goldson’s arm, who was in close proximity at the time.
In a Q&A section, IFAB confirms a similar scenario.
When asked if “a defender tries to kick the ball out. The ball hits the arm of another defender who is standing close in their penalty areas and does not expect the ball to come from a team-mate. What is the correct decision?”
The answer: “The referee allows play to continue. It is not a handball offence - the defende ris not considered to have made their body unnaturally bigger (whether or not the arm was close to the body or already extended).”