Aston Villa bemused by late refereeing decision

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Aston Villa’s players, staff and fans all left Selhurst Park scratching their heads on Saturday.

Trailing 1-0 and down to 10 men, Villa thought they had equalized in the 96th minute through Henri Lansbury‘s strike.

But referee Kevin Friend has blown his whistle milliseconds before, as he gave a free kick to Crystal Palace for simulation against Jack Grealish.

On second viewing it appeared that Grealish was fouled both inside and outside the penalty box and the referee should have either played advantage or awarded a penalty kick. VAR wasn’t used in this situation, and Villa boss Dean Smith told the BBC after the game that he was confused as to why they goal wasn’t allowed to stand.

“We kept going until the end and in my opinion got a good goal. I’m not sure any of us know why the referee has given the decision,” Smith said. “We’ve all looked at it back and nobody can see why he hasn’t given the goal and given the free kick but we have to take it on the chin.”

Villa’s players were absolutely livid with Friend and Grealish was booked for simulation (first it was reported he’d been booked for dissent) as he remonstrated with the referee.

It was a bad decision by Friend, but his decision could not be reviewed by VAR as it doesn’t come under the four situations it can be used for: penalty kicks, a red card, a goal or mistaken identity.

You could argue that it could have gone to VAR over a penalty kick being awarded to Villa, as that was a pretty clear and obvious mistake.

There are still teething issues with VAR and Villa were on the wrong side of it on Saturday.