VAR

Palace stuns wasteful Manchester United at the death

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Manchester United found a way to throw away a dominant performance through more penalty drama and a poor late concession from its well-paid goalkeeper.

Crystal Palace had not beaten Manchester United at Old Trafford since 1989, and never topped the Red Devils in the Premier League era, but now has a 2-1 Saturday win for its resume.

Daniel James‘ 89th minute goal seemed to have given United a result for its controlling effort, letting Marcus Rashford off the hook for a missed penalty, but De Gea allowed Patrick Van Aanholt to score a near post, stoppage time winner with poor goalkeeping after Paul Pogba was caught in possession and allowed Christian Benteke to spring a rush.

[ MORE: How did Pulisic perform v. Norwich? ] 

Marcus Rashford smashed an effort off the post less than a week after Paul Pogba saw his effort saved at Wolves.

VAR absolved Palace of a possible first half red card and seemingly clear second half penalty, and Jordan Ayew scored on the Eagles’ only true chance of the morning.

James set the game level with a gorgeous strike after quickfire, clinical passing in the 89th minute.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ] 

United has now won just three of 15 matches in all competitions since defeating PSG in the UEFA Champions League.


Three things we learned

1. MORE PENALTY DRAMA: Yes, all caps. Should we bold, too? After Anthony Martial raced to make sure Marcus Rashford would take United’s 70th minute penalty, the English youngster did what Paul Pogba did and missed his chance. Rashford smashed off the post.

2. Everyone can finish a glorious chance (even Palace): Roy Hodgson‘s goal-starved Eagles needed a bit of help to get on the score board, and Ayew’s finish came on Palace’s first touch inside the Manchester United 18. Victor Lindelof underestimated Schlupp in the challenge, and Ghanaian won a Vicente Guaita goal kick onto the path of Ayew. 1v1 with De Gea, he didn’t miss.

3. The kid’s got flair: Daniel James’ second finish in three PL matches for United was a beauty, a quickly snapped side-of-the-foot offering that swam over the gloves of a flailing Vicente Guaita. The 21-year-old’s $20 million transfer tag looks pretty justified early.

Man of the match: Martial


United was far and away the better team in the match, aside from Marcus Rashford’s penalty miss.

The Red Devils had VAR work against them on three separate occasions, and only one really passed the smell test. While we’ll acknowledge that the VAR crew knows what it’s watching far more than us, Gary Cahill getting off the hook for a take down of clearly through Anthony Martial and the same Frenchman being denied a penalty shout after Martin Kelly put off his shot effort with some since groping will be watched again and again.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

Before all that, though, Ayew scored with Palace’s first touch in the United 18.

Wolves on VAR review of golazo: ‘I was hoping to stay happy’

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Nuno Espirito Santo issued the definitive quote of the VAR era after Wolves’ equalizer withstood video review in a 1-1 draw with Manchester United on Monday at the Molineux.

“I was hoping to stay happy.”

[ RECAP: Wolves 1-1 Man Utd ]

Espirito Santo saw VAR dramatically play a role in Wolves fortunes for the second-straight week, and the manager was not too happy with it on opening weekend when Willy Boly‘s handball was found to have assisted Leander Dendoncker‘s goal.

This time, VAR held up its end of the bargain in Wolves favor, as the cross that led to Ruben Neves’ incredible goal was found to be onside. From the BBC:

“I don’t know how they will solve it – it’s the emotion, you celebrate a goal so much and then you stay in silence. Don’t take that away from the people.”

The problem, of course, is money. So much is riding on qualifying for Europe, staying in the Premier League, etc. When sports became a big business, and managers aren’t complaining about their salaries, the science overtook the spirit.

Espirito Santo is correct that the wait to confirm a goal takes away from the joy of sport. It also will deny of us of the next “Hand of God” (and England would not have won its lone World Cup had goal line technology been around).

But ultimately, it will keep the correct score on the board. And that matters.

After VAR drama, does new handball law need to change?

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The fallout from Manchester City and Tottenham’s wild 2-2 draw at the Etihad Stadium continues, as late VAR drama stole the show with Gabriel Jesus‘ strike ruled out deep into second half stoppage time.

[ MORE: VAR drama dominates

Jesus’ goal in stoppage time was ruled out for a handball on Aymeric Laporte after being checked by VAR, as the new laws brought in by IFAB this summer were interpreted correctly. The exact same thing happened as Wolves had a goal chalked out against Leicester during the opening weekend of the season.

But do those new laws need to be tweaked?

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

The new rules state that if there’s a handball in the box from an attacking player which either a) leads to the ball going into the net or b) leads directly to a goal being scored, then it will be called a handball.

However, the same law states that if a defending player handles in the box then it is down to the referees discretion to decide whether or not it was a deliberate handball.

As you’d expected, Man City midfielder Ilkay Gunodgan has strong feelings on this law change, and our broadcast crew discuss whether or not this law needs to be changed in the video above.

The overall feeling is that the law needs to tweaking to state that handballs in the box by either attacking or defending players are treated the same and called a handball.

How successful was VAR during PL debut?

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VAR is now part of our Premier League life.

How did the system fare during it’s debut over the opening weekend of the 2019-20 season?

It was used 65 times across the 10 games, with Man City’s 5-0 win at West Ham seeing the second-most VAR action. Seven reviews were needed during that game, and that called for some to suggest that the “spirit of the game” had been lost as Man City’s fans didn’t celebrate as joyfully as they usually would have as they waited for VAR verification.

That is the main dynamic which has shifted due to this system being introduced.

It worked smoothly, but was criticized by Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo as Lenader Dendoncker’s goal was chalked off for a handball call on Willy Boly. It was unintentional and Boly wasn’t making his body bigger, but his arm was raised above his shoulders and under the new regulations that means it had to be given as a handball, regardless of intention.

There are going to be teething problems and fans, players and managers are going to have to get used to the new laws on handballs and how the PL referees aren’t going to use the system for goalkeepers being on their line during penalty kicks.

In the stadiums, the experience was smooth. Fans were told when VAR was being used over the PA system and messages flashed up on the scoreboards and TV screens. Ironic jeers and chants of “VAR! VAR!” were plentiful from supporters and traditionalists will probably never like VAR.

The video above wraps up the key decisions which VAR was used for this weekend, as delays were kept to a minimum but the debate about whether or not the PL needs the system definitely wasn’t.

Wolves boss Espirito Santo not a fan of VAR

Photo by Marc Atkins/Offside/Offside via Getty Images
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It comes as little surprise that Wolves manager Nuno Espirito Santo was upset to have a goal chalked off by VAR in a scoreless draw with Leicester City.

What may come as a surprise, though, is Espirito Santo’s full-throated questioning of the use of video review at all.

[ RECAP: Leicester-Wolves ]

Espirito Santo will earn a lot of fans amongst the VAR skeptics with this analysis/rant regarding the overturning of Leander Dendoncker‘s goal due to Willy Boly handling the ball before the Belgian bundled over the line.

“I haven’t seen the images but I trust them. If they saw it, what can we do?” he said. “Things that weren’t before shouldn’t be now. We have such a nice Premier League, such a product, we cannot lose that.”

He continued (via BBC.com):

“It’s what fans come for, to celebrate, not to celebrate a no goal; That’s not the real celebration of football. It’s not good for the atmosphere of football. The Leicester fans were celebrating the no goal, that’s not the mindset of the game.

“What I’m concerned about is, let’s not ruin the game. Two minutes the game stopped. The anxiety of us celebrating, then we waited. It’s not the spirit of the game.”

Do you agree, or have you just accepted that this is the future of sport?

The three points would’ve been glorious for a Wolves side which played Thursday in Armenia, but one will be valuable given it came against a Foxes side expected to compete for a Top Seven place in the Premier League.