Belfast Telegraph

VAR isn’t called upon despite a controversial winner for the Seagulls

Brighton 2 Crystal Palace 1

By Declan Warrington

Video Assistant Referee technology remained unused on its introduction to English football — but there was a hint of controversy as Brighton eliminated Crystal Palace from the FA Cup.

VAR was available for the first time in a competitive fixture in England, but despite suspicions of handball in Glenn Murray’s late goal, was not called upon.

Bakary Sako’s fine second-half strike had brought Palace level after Dale Stephens had given the hosts the lead at The Amex.

With a replay looking increasingly likely, substitute Murray then ensured a fourth-round trip to Middlesbrough with his goal three minutes from time.

Solly March and Tomer Hemed had already threatened when, in the 25th minute, Stephens gave Brighton the lead.

In space on the right, Ezequiel Schelotto cut the ball back towards the edge of the area to Stephens and, gifted too much time and space by Palace’s defence, he ran through and shot under goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey.

The Seagulls again appeared the likelier goalscorers, until from nowhere Palace drew level in the 69th minute.

A block bounced near Sako and, from 30 yards, he turned and struck beyond Tim Krul.

Brighton got back to work and were controversially rewarded for their perseverance when — from a free-kick — March crossed to Uwe Huenemeier, who headed across goal for Murray to finish at the back post via his knee.

His arm was close to making contact a split second later and television replays were inconclusive — but referee Andre Marriner allowed the goal to stand without requesting the use of VAR.

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