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Pep laments VAR heartbreak: “It was offside. It was cruel”

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Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola leapt high into the air, his sweater jacket billowing out as he joined the Etihad Stadium in celebrating Raheem Sterling‘s stoppage time winner.

Only it wasn’t a winner. VAR checked its angles and found that the goal resulted from an offside start, and Guardiola is still coming to grips with Tottenham Hotspur advancing over Man City due to away goals following a 4-3 win but 4-4 draw on aggregate.

[ RECAPS: Man City-Spurs | Porto-Liverpool ]

“It was offside,” Guardiola said. “It was cruel. The moment we celebrate and we are so close to the semi-finals. It is what it is.”

Now City turns its attention to what still could be a treble if it defenders its Premier League title and adds the FA Cup to its League Cup win.

And his challenge to the City fans was met: The Etihad was roaring for his men all afternoon long.

“We missed a penalty in the first leg but I am so proud of the players and the fans,” Guardiola said, referring to Hugo Lloris‘ stop on Sergio Aguero back in North London.

[ MORE: JPW’s 3 things | Spurs react ]

“I have never heard noise like that since I have been in Manchester but football is unpredictable. … Today is tough and tomorrow will be tough too but the day after we will be ready.”

Guardiola also was upset that VAR did not determine Fernando Llorente to have handled what stood as the match-deciding goal. From the BBC:

“I support VAR but maybe from one angle Fernando Llorente‘s goal is handball, maybe from the referee’s angle it is not.”

He’s long been a proponent of VAR, and will feel stung by it today, but it’s implementation will get things right more often than not. The fact that it saps some drama from the moment while also injecting a different kind of emotion is what we’ll debate for the rest of time.

On Wednesday, it was cruel (unless you’re a Spurs supporter).

UCL AT HALF: Early drama for Spurs-Man City, Liverpool-Porto

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High-drama starts at both Anfield and the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium have the UEFA Champions League quarterfinals off to a flyer.

[ LIVE: Champions League scores ]


Tottenham Hotspur 0-0 Manchester City

It’s nil-nil, but just, as Hugo Lloris saved a Sergio Aguero penalty awarded by Video Assistant Referee.

Many will feel the save fit the occasion, since the sliding Rose’s handball while drawing his arm back to his body was iffy at best, but Bjorn Kuipers was called to review the instance by VAR and decided it was indeed penalty-worthy.

Speaking of VAR, Fernandinho is fortunate that the cameras didn’t want to review a particularly dirty 50-50 challenge and post-challenge of his on Kane.

Liverpool 2-0 Porto

At Anfield, the drama was a little bit more by the book. The stadium was ready to explode from Moment No. 1, and Naby Keita‘s wickedly deflected strike fulfilled the prescription.

After Porto were denied a penalty through VAR, Liverpool struck again.

Roberto Firmino‘s marker didn’t need to take any turns to get into the goal, as the Brazilian was in great position to tap a Trent Alexander-Arnold cross into the goal.

FA Cup semifinals to show VAR decisions in stadium

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For the first time in English soccer, the decisions made via VAR will be shown on television screens throughout the stadium.

The landmark moment will arrive during the two FA Cup semifinals this weekend, as Brighton face Manchester City on Saturday and Watford play Wolves on Sunday.

With VAR to be introduced into the Premier League from the 2019-20 season, VAR has been used in both the FA Cup and League Cup in England as a testing ground. Throughout the FA Cup over the past two seasons there has been plenty of confusion in stadiums as fans try to figure what is going on.

Confirmation that these decisions will now be shown on the big screens at Wembley is a welcome relief for supporters, and should help referees gain more respect inside the stadiums.

Of course, with plenty of PL stadiums not having TV screens (Old Trafford and Anfield to name a few) it is unlikely the decisions will be shown during the game for next season. Then again, why shouldn’t they be shown at stadiums which have TV screens available?

Whatever the English game can do to help usher in VAR smoothly must be done. Showing the decisions live on screens is a big step in the right direction.

UEFA release statement on key VAR decisions

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After two UEFA Champions League last 16 second leg games were decided by penalty kicks awarded via VAR, European soccer’s governing body has released a statement detailing why both decisions were made.

That was rather nice of them, wasn’t it?

Manchester United’s dramatic 90th minute winner at Paris Saint-Germain came via a handball decision made by the on-field referee after reviewing the TV monitor on the side of the pitch, while Porto’s winning spot kick in the 116th minute of their clash against Roma was also given with the help of VAR.


Here is the explanation, in full, of the decision to hand Man United a penalty kick against PSG.

“The VAR, after checking various different angles available to him, recommended to the referee an on-field review following the penalty area incident. Given that the referee did not recognise the incident clearly during live play (referred to as serious missed incident in the VAR protocol) an on-field review was conducted.

“Following the on-field review, the referee confirmed that the distance that the ball travelled was not short and the impact could therefore not be unexpected. The defender’s arm was not close to the body, which made the defender’s body bigger thus resulting in the ball being stopped from travelling in the direction of the goal. The referee, therefore, awarded a penalty kick.”


And here is the explanation for FC Porto being awarded a penalty kick in the 116th minute

“The VAR, after checking the offside line – which confirmed the attacker to be onside – asked the referee if he had seen the holding offence committed by the AS Roma defender. The referee confirmed he was unaware of any holding during live play and he asked for the images to be prepared to allow him to conduct an on-field review (serious missed incident). The review convinced the referee that a penalty kick should be awarded for a holding offence.”


Now, these explanations do act to clear up the thinking behind the decisions and why the referee and/or his video assistants came to the decision they did.

But some of the reasoning given for United’s penalty at PSG raised a few eyebrows, especially with the line saying “the distance that the ball travelled was not short and the impact could therefore not be unexpected.”

If you accept that opinion on certain calls will not disappear with the introduction of VAR, then that will probably allow you to sleep at night…

Rashford scores penalty kick after controversial VAR decision (video)

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Video assistant refereeing provided Manchester United with a last-minute chance to stay alive in the UEFA Champions League.

A late strike by Diogo Dalot struck the arm of Presnel Kimpembe in the box and after a lengthy VAR review, Manchester United were awarded a penalty kick. Young Marcus Rashford stepped up to the spot and smashed home the goal that secured his side’s place in the Champions League quarterfinals.

[WATCH: All goals between Man United-PSG]

PSG dominated the second half and seemed very likely to go through. But Rashford’s third goal gave Manchester United the 3-1 win on the night and got them through on away goals.

Watch the drama as it unfolded below.