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Opinion

Manchester City 4 Tottenham 3 proved once and for all that VAR is massive leap forward

1 month ago
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As a Newcastle United fan, the Manchester City 4 Tottenham 3 match was a bit of a dilemma.

When/if I watch Champion League games, my only interest usually is in the Premier League side losing.

That is, unless you get somebody such as Leicester City magically coming from nowhere and upsetting the status quo.

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Why would you want that top grouping of half a dozen clubs to get even more successful and financially stronger, growing the gap to the rest even more? Their greed knows no bounds, as evidenced by them pushing through the new arrangements whereby from next season they will get a bigger slice of the overseas TV cash, at the expense of the rest.

Anyway, I digress.

Manchester City 4 Tottenham 3, when I sat down to watch it I didn’t know who I wanted to win, two of the Premier League ‘big six’ facing each other.

On balance, a bit like the Liverpool v Man City title race, I simply want the two groups of fans to go through as much agony as possible. Hopes raised, only to be dashed, then repeated as often as possible.

It couldn’t have worked out better…

Sterling scores after 4 minutes and aggregate scores level at 1-1 after Tottenham’s 1-0 win last week, Man City fans thinking this will be a stroll and Spurs supporters devastated.

Son scores after 7 minutes, Spurs fans ecstatic and Man City fans gutted as they now need two goals due to Tottenham’s away goal.

Son scores again after 10 minutes, Spurs fans can’t believe it, neither can Man City fans, they need three now.

Bernardo Silva goes up the other end and on 11 minutes makes it 2-2 on the night and 2-3 on aggregate, hopes raised for Man City fans and a worry for the visitors.

On 21 minutes Sterling gets his second, 3-2 on the night and 3-3 on aggregate, Spurs still going through but 69 minutes for Man City to get the winner.

Phew, agony/ecstasy for the two sets of fans directly involved but ultimate TV viewing watching others suffering the ups and downs. Even better is the fact that both teams have exhibited comical defending and goalkeeping to add to the fun.

The game kind of settles down until on 59 minutes Aguero gets the goal that surely sets Man City on the way to the semi-finals. The Spurs players and fans look well beaten.

Hold on though, 73 minutes and out of nowhere a corner comes over and Llorente scores, 4-3 on the night but Tottenham going through via away goals with a 4-4 aggregate.

Hold on hold on though, a VAR review.

TV replays show the ball come over and does it hit Llorente’s arm or thigh to deflect into the net. The referee checks and the goal stands.  Very different emotions for the two groups of fans.

Yes it took time but the referee came to the correct decision with the help of VAR. If it had been disallowed thanks to the use of VAR, Man City would have thought the technology the best ever, however long the wait…

After numerous replays nobody could decide for sure whether it had or hadn’t hit the striker’s arm so no clear miscarriage of justice. Plus, that was irrelevant anyway, Llorente had his arm by his side and knew nothing about it, a Man City defender surprisingly missed the ball when jumping in front and it hit the Spurs player’s arm or thigh without him making any movement. Even if it came off his arm the goal should still stand, just as if it was at the other end it wouldn’t be a penalty because he hadn’t extended his arm.

Anyway, a tense last 20 minutes as Man City press and then out of nowhere, Eriksen loses the ball and the ball eventually ends up with Sterling who does very well to score his hat-trick and send Man City through.

Man City fans absolutely loving it, Spurs fans sick as you can imagine.

Hold on though, a VAR decision to be made…

Sure enough, in the build up, Aguero marginally but definitely offside, no goal!

The two sets of fans swap emotions, a joy for neutrals such as me. All I need to top this is for Tottenham to be later disqualified and their semi-final place awarded to some random club that isn’t from the Premier League.

Seriously though, I couldn’t believe after the final whistle, just how many people there were claiming that VAR had actually ruined the match???

Imagine this morning the injustice if Spurs fans were waking up and had been cheated due to an offside mistake that ALL TV viewers could instantly see?

Just remember the injustice you felt when the biggest cheat of all, Maradona, did that in 1986? Or any number of times when decisions have gone against Newcastle United?

As for the time factor.

Only two weeks ago James Tomkins ‘scored’ for Palace against Newcastle just before half-time and celebrated. However, the linesman eventually called the referee over and after a minute or two the goal was disallowed, a player offside but the linesman needing the referee to confirm that that player had obstructed Dubravka’s view.

That took far more time than it did for the referee/VAR to rule out Man City’s ‘winner’ last night.

Just think of the time wasted in so many games because players are convinced the match officials have got it wrong and protest at length, even though they know that in the Premier League there is currently no way for wrongs to be righted…which is all set to change as from next season, bringing the PL into line with all other major European leagues who already use VAR.

It is the implementation of VAR that is lacking a bit for me, as in big improvements that can be made.

What that needs is for the official watching on a screen to be able to decide decisions, with the referee on the pitch only asked to review the ones where it is more contentious and not so obvious.

Yes it does dilute the referee’s total control but then there again he also relies on his linesmen making decisions that he can play no part in.

Long live VAR!

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