Longreads

10 Times VAR decided the Faith of the Football Match

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If earlier the referees could make a decision based on their perception of the game, then today they are literally tied up. The video assistant referee rules were written into the Laws of the Game in 2018, and since then the VAR has gradually penetrated into all major football competitions of the world. Even the Champions League could not resist the onslaught of technology. This year, the VAR was first used in play-off matches. And it has already made a lot of noise there. Does the video assistant really spoil the football? Is it indispensable if we want to avoid the referee’s mistakes? Let’s take a look at the 10 most controversial football matches in which the VAR system significantly influenced the outcome of the game. Do not forget to subscribe to our channel, and let’s kick off.

# 10

March 6, 2019

Champions League Quarter-Final

PSG – Manchester United

1-3 (Aggregate 3-3)

Manchester United went to Paris with a difficult task. They lost the home match 0-2, and looked obvious outsiders in the return game. Man United’s tactics were simple: to keep the defense line as tight as possible, and expect the mistakes from the PSG side. And the latter were quite generous that evening. There were several ridiculous mistakes by PSG and Buffon that help the Red Devils to lead 2-1 close to the end of the game. But this was not enough to proceed to quarter-finals. Trying his luck, Diogo Dalot fired a 25-meters shot in the direction of the Paris gates. The ball hit the Presnel Kimpembe’s almost cuddled hand. Initially, Damir Skomina confidently pointed to the corner, but after that he decided to play it safe and turned to the help of VAR. The pause lasted for 3 minutes, after which the decision was made on a penalty, which was successfully performed by Marcus Rushford.

# 9

March 28, 2018

International Friendly

England – Italy

1-1

German referee Deniz Aytekin decided to give a penalty in the final minutes of a friendly match between England and Italy by using the video assistant. In the 84th minute of the match, Federico Chiesa burst into the penalty area of ​​the hosts and fell after contacting the defender. The referee pointed out the corner at first. However, in his headphones, Aytekin heard the advice that it would be good to check the episode on video replay. Deniz reviewed the possible foul and changed his mind, pointing to the penalty spot. Italy leveled off and avoided the defeat. Immediately, the tide of criticism from various British experts and former footballers was dropped against the referee’s decision. But in general, the opinion of neutral fans fully supported the validity of that penalty.

# 8

December 29, 2018

Serie A

Juventus – Sampdoria

2-1

By the 33rd minute, Juventus led 1-0 thanks to the goal from Cristiano Ronaldo, and had full control over the game. At this point, the guests earned a corner after which the ball hit the hand of Emre Can. If it were not for the VAR system, the referee would have never recorded this foul. Several video replays allowed the referee to make the right decision. It was a penalty and Fabio Quagliarella equalized the score. In the second half, another penalty was awarded in favor of Juventus. This time the referee himself whistled the hand ball by Dennis Praet during the corner kick. The VAR review only made it possible again to ensure that the foul had happened. But the craziest moment took place in the episode with the canceled goal of Riccardo Saponara in the 94th minute. Even after the video replay, it was not clear enough why the referee canceled the goal. But in fact, he turned out to be right: the ball bounced off from a partner’s leg to Saponare, who was running out of offside.

# 7

March 6, 2019

Champions League Quarter-Final

Porto – Roma

3-1 (Aggregate 4-3)

Porto lost the first match in Rome, but the away goal left the Portuguese team a good chance of success following the return match. In the 26th minute, Porto took the lead with the efforts of Tiquinho. However, the joy of the Dragons was short-lived when De Rossi netted the equalizer in the 37th minute. After the second half opening, Marega (Маре́га) scored the low cross at the far post and marked the aggregate equality in the clash. Everything was decided in the end of extra time, when Alex Telles was given a penalty shoot after the foul of Alessandro Florenzi. The decision on the eleven meters kick was made after the intervention of the VAR system. Porto reached the quarter finals.

# 6

April 17, 2019

Champions League Quarter-Final

Manchester City  – Tottenham Hotspur

4-3 (Aggregate 4-4)

Four goals in 10 minutes and two important VAR decisions. A recent football thriller could not go past our release. The key episode of this historical clash happened in the 76th minute when Fernando Llorente scored the third goal of the Spurs. After the corner kick, the Spanish striker managed to send the ball into Ederson’s net with his hip. There was a suspicion that the player had played his hand before this. The referee of the match, Dzhuneit Chakyr, decided to review the episode with the help of VAR. Chakyr needed some time to make a decision. In the dynamics, the replay proved that the goal was “clean”. However, the brightest episode of the game was still ahead! In the fourth minute of the stoppage time, it seemed that Man City had scored the winning goal, forcing the happy Guardiola to jump on the sideline. But unfortunately for Pep, the VAR review again helped Chakyr to make the right decision – Aguero was offside.

# 5

January 8, 2019

EPL Cup Semi-Final

Tottenham Hotspur – Chelsea

1-0 (Aggregate 4-4)

It should be noted that before the conceded goal and after it, the guests were more determined to score. However, its first clear-cut chance the team of Maurizio Sarri created only in the end of the first half. Before this, at the 26th minute, Harry Kane escaped an offside trap, and after a long pass from the depth, he ran out head-to-head with Chelsea’s goalkeeper. The captain of Tottenham beat Kepa, and this forced the latter to knock Harry Kane down on the lawn. The referee, Michael Oliver, first recorded offside, but then turned to VAR and eventually pointed to the penalty spot. The victim himself executed the sentence – 1:0, and the Spurs took the lead. In the second half, Tottenham skillfully played to keep the score and won the game.

# 4

June 25, 2018

FIFA World Cup – Group Stage

Spain – Morocco

2-2

At the start of the game, Gerard Piquet jumped into a tackle with his two legs trying to knock the ball out from Khalid Butaib. The dangerous game deserved a red card, but the Uzbek referee Ravshan Irmatov ignored the episode. The entire referee crew, along with the video assistants, did not give the referee any clues that would have prompted him to doubt his decision and turn to the video replay. Moroccan team appeals failed too. The Spaniards were lucky to secure a draw in this match. Iago Aspas equalized only in the 91st minute of the match. If VAR was used against Pique, then Spain would have played the entire match against Morocco without a key defender, and the final score would have been far from what we have seen.

# 3

February 24, 2019

La Liga

Levante – Real Madrid

1-2

In the 20th minute, Levante’s striker Jose Morales fell in the penalty box of Real Madrid after a tackle with Daniel Carvajal. The episode was very difficult to make an unambiguous decision. If desired, the referee could see both the grip and the feet contact of the players. But the referee did not use the VAR. At the end of the first half, he decided to return to the video replays to check the Enis Bardhi’s (Энис Барди) handball. The ball really hit the midfielder’s hand, but the inconsistency of this moment was that the Macedonian protected his face. Nevertheless, the judge was right. Real Madrid used penalty kick and opened the score. In the second half, the Levante players managed to level the score, and in the 78th minute, the most controversial episode took place. Casemiro fell in the box. The referee Villanueva (Вильянуэва) conferred with the assistants and confidently pointed to the spot. Undoubtedly, Doukoure’s tackle looked quite scary from the sidelines – this way, he could break a leg. But did he even hit the foot of Casemiro?

# 2

January 27, 2018

FA Cup 4th round

Liverpool – West Bromwich Albion

2-3

Poor performance of the defense line cost Liverpool three conceded goals, to which the hosts could only answer with two shots by Firmino and Salah. The reason of the drama at Enfield was the newly introduced VAR system. Towards the middle of the first half, Dawson sent the ball into Mignolet’s net for the third time, but the referee, having resorted to VAR replay, canceled this goal, due to the offside position of Barry. After few minutes more, Craig Pawson again used the video assistant and gave a penalty for Livermore’s foul against Salah. Firmino hit the crossbar with a penalty kick, missing the opportunity to score a double. In the added time of the first half, the ball again was delivered to the net of Simon Mignolet. After the shot by Dawson and Matip’s deflecting into his own net, the referee consulted the video assistant for a long time and eventually approved the goal. The score changed to 1:3. After the break, the red literally didn’t get off the West Bromwich penalty area. They attacked a lot, provided great combinations and created a dozen of dangerous opportunities, but only one of them was realized. Salah made it 2-3.

# 1

July 15, 2018

FIFA World Cup Final

France – Croatia

4-2

On July 15, 2018, the 2018 World Cup Final took place at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow. France and Croatia clashed in the main football event of the year. The score was opened by the French in the 18th minute. After a cross from Antoine Griezmann, the Croatian striker Mario Mandzhukic accidentally deflected the ball with his head into own goal. Croatia leveled the score just after 10 minutes: Ivan Perisic used a perfect pass from Domagoy Vida, and shot the ball past Hugo Lloris . But the Croatians failed to keep a draw at least until the break. During a corner kick, the ball hit the hand of Croatia’s defender. The referee turned to the VAR replays and pointed to the penalty spot. The kick was successfully performed by Griezmann. The controversial penalty badly affected the mood of Croatia national team. Although nobody questioned the deserved victory of France, the VAR system was severely criticized by world football community in the aftermath.

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