Why was Ecuador’s goal ruled out for offside?

They told us that once the football kicked off, all the issues and controversy would be forgotten. As it turned out, the controversy was only just beginning.

It took just two minutes of this hotly debated World Cup to produce a moment so baffling, so inexplicable, that football fans all over the world were left scratching their heads. It came when Ecuador, playing the host nation Qatar, were awarded a free kick just inside opposition territory.

In came the cross, the Qatari keeper struggled to reach the ball, and moments later we had our first goal as Enner Valencia headed into an empty net.

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Or did we?

After a minute of confusion, the referee indicated that the goal would not stand, with offside given as the reason.

Yet when the replays were shown, there initially appeared to be no offside to be found – nor any other infringement that could have seen the goal disallowed.

It was another 10 minutes before the replay was shown again, revealing that an Ecuador player had in fact been offside when the free-kick was taken – if only by a kneecap’s length.

A major let-off for Qatar just moments into the biggest game in their history.

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