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VAR – the big incidents and milestones

Leicester became the first team in English football to score a goal via a VAR decision in January.

The Video Assistant Referee system was described as “embarrassing” by Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino this week – and on Saturday football’s law-makers will rule on whether to deploy the technology throughout the game.

If approved by the International Football Association Board, VAR could be in place at this summer’s World Cup.

Here, Press Association Sport takes a look at major incidents using the technology.

Cameroon 0 Chile 2, Confederations Cup, June 18, 2017

Germany v Chile – 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup – Group B – Kazan Arena

Eduardo Vargas’ first-time finish at the end of the first half was ruled out for offside after a referral. However, it took more than a minute from the ball going into the net to the goal being overturned by the VAR and the game was not restarted before the interval. A replay showed Vargas may have been just a few centimetres offside, leaving the incident open to debate as regulations for VAR use state the original decision can only be changed if it is “clearly wrong”. Vargas eventually got a goal in stoppage time at the end of the second half, and this time he benefited from a VAR decision as a linesman’s offside flag was overturned after Alexis Sanchez ran through and had a shot blocked, allowing Vargas to follow up and score.

Brighton 2 Crystal Palace 1, FA Cup, January 8, 2018

This was the first competitive game in England where the VAR technology was made available. The system remained unused but there was a hint of controversy as, despite suspicions of handball in Glenn Murray’s late winner for Brighton against his former club, it was not called upon. The striker’s arm was close to making contact with the ball and television replays were inconclusive, but referee Andre Marriner allowed the goal to stand without requesting the use of VAR, meaning Palace were eliminated.

Leicester 2 Fleetwood 0, FA Cup, January 16

Leicester became the first team in English football to score a goal via a VAR decision as they overcame Fleetwood 2-0 in their FA Cup replay. Kelechi Iheanacho scored in each half but it was his strike 13 minutes from time that required intervention. Referee Jonathan Moss asked to check if the striker was offside before finishing off Riyad Mahrez’s reverse pass. Replays showed Iheanacho was onside when the ball was played and the goal stood to see Leicester progress to a fourth-round tie away at Peterborough.

Chelsea 1 Norwich 1 (Chelsea win 5-3 on penalties), FA Cup, January 17

Chelsea v Norwich City – Emirates FA Cup Third Round Replay – Stamford Bridge

Willian was clearly clipped by Canaries defender Timm Klose in the first half of extra-time, although referee Graham Scott may have decided the Chelsea forward was already going to ground. However, despite VAR official Mike Jones watching a number of different camera angle replays, he advised Scott his initial decision did not need to be changed.

Liverpool 2 West Brom 3, FA Cup, January 27

Liverpool v West Bromwich Albion – Emirates FA Cup – Fourth Round – Anfield

Liverpool were dumped out of the FA Cup by West Brom in a match littered with VAR referrals which caused confusion on the pitch and in the stands. Three major incidents in the first half of the Reds’ 3-2 defeat required the intervention of technology – including the first time a match referee has used a pitchside television replay. Although it eventually led to the correct decisions being made, it took almost four minutes between Mohamed Salah being fouled and Craig Pawson awarding a penalty, leaving supporters and players on all sides angry and frustrated.

Huddersfield v Manchester United, FA Cup, February 17

Juan Mata had a goal disallowed, having been caught narrowly offside, during Manchester United’s 2-0 FA Cup fifth-round victory. Match referee Kevin Friend had awarded a goal until the VAR’s lengthy intervention. There was controversy after those viewing on BT Sport were shown images of Mata’s positioning amid crooked lines that created further confusion surrounding the decision.

Tottenham 6 Rochdale 1, FA Cup replay, February 28

Erik Lamela thought he had fired Tottenham ahead only for VAR Graham Scott to controversially rule it out due to slight tugs on Harrison McGahey’s shirt by Fernando Llorente. Lucas Moura was then felled by McGahey in the area, with no penalty the eventual decision, before Spurs were awarded a spot-kick when Kieran Trippier was held back by Matt Done. VAR again intervened, this time seemingly deciding that because the foul had continued into the area, Tottenham should be awarded a penalty. It was only in keeping with the tone of slapstick when Son Heung-min, having paused during his run-up, had his successful penalty disallowed and was booked for his troubles. Tierney double-checked with VAR, with more time wasted and players and fans becoming more and more bemused.


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