You are not misreading me, that's a fact.Can you explain why virtual photons do not obey this law? I'm not challenging that you are correct, but I hadn't seen before that virtual photons fail this equation. Or am I misreading you?
About the reasons for which they don't obey the law, instead, I have less knowledge.
Let's try with an example, if the conclusions are wrong I hope someone helps correcting me.
Two electrons collide head-on along the x axis with equal and opposite speeds. The virtual photon image describes this process with the exchange of a virtual photon between the two electrons. If every electrons, because of the velocity change in the process, acquires a momentum p, then the virtual photon carries a momentum p. Now let's see the energy. Every electron, after the collision, has exactly the same energy as before, so if energy conservation still have to hold, the virtual photon should have zero energy. How's possible that a real particle has momentum but no energy?