Stuart Attwell was right to award Liverpool their controversial opening goal in today's 2-2 draw against Sunderland, refereeing chiefs said tonight.

The Professional Game Match Officials body, which provides match officials for all matches in the Premier League and Football League, issued a statement after Attwell faced criticism.

Attwell allowed Dirk Kuyt's opening strike to count after ruling Michael Turner had taken a free-kick when he appeared to roll it back to goalkeeper Simon Mignolet. Fernando Torres nipped in, raced through on goal and played in Kuyt to score.

The Sunderland manager, Steve Bruce, said at his press conference: "I've been in enough trouble so I don't want to talk about it, but you all witnessed it and he got it wrong."

However, PGMO released a statement clarifying their view of the goal.

The statement read: "PGMO has reviewed the first goal scored between Liverpool and Sunderland and believe that the correct decisions were made.

"According to the Laws of the Game, having stopped the game for any infringement the referee is required to 'indicate the restart of the match'.

"In practice, in the majority of cases, referees indicate for the restart by gesturing to players to take the kick. These gestures can be minimal. For the more important 'ceremonial' free-kicks, which also involve control of the defensive wall, referees can indicate by using the whistle. However, there is no requirement by Law to use the whistle to make the indication.

"The ball is then in play when it is kicked and moves. So, in this case, the ball was in play as soon as it is kicked by a Sunderland player.

"Also, the Laws state that the free-kick must be taken from the place where the infringement occurred. Again, in this case, the referee correctly determined that the free-kick was played from the right place."