UEFA explain controversial Champions League VAR calls

Manchester United's English forward Marcus Rashford scores a penalty during the UEFA Champions League round of 16 second-leg football match between Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and Manchester United after a VAR decision. (AFP)
Updated 08 March 2019

UEFA explain controversial Champions League VAR calls

LONDON: UEFA took the unusual step on Friday to explain a series of controversial Video Assistant Referees (VAR) calls in this week's Champions League last 16 ties.
European football's governing body bowed to pressure by bringing forward the introduction of VAR into the Champions League for the knockout rounds, having not used the technology for the group stages.
Ajax and Manchester United benefited from disputed decisions in sealing dramatic comebacks to eliminate holders Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain.
The handball given against PSG defender Presnel Kimpembe to award United a stoppage time penalty, which Marcus Rashford converted to complete a 3-1 win on the night at the Parc des Princes and progress on away goals, was branded "a disgrace" by injured PSG star Neymar.
Even former United players Rio Ferdinand and Michael Owen said in their roles at TV pundits the penalty should not have been awarded.
However, UEFA explained why Slovenian referee Damir Skomina reversed his original decision not to point to the spot having been alerted to watch a replay of the incident by the VAR.
"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," said UEFA's statement.
"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."
Ajax's third goal in a 4-1 win at the Santiago Bernabeu was reviewed over whether the ball had gone out for what would have been a Madrid throw-in prior to Dusan Tadic's finish.
UEFA said referee Felix Brych was right to award the goal in the absence of conclusive proof the ball crossed the touchline.
Porto's comeback from a 2-1 first leg defeat to beat Roma 3-1 after extra-time was also marked by big VAR calls.
The Portuguese side's winner came from a penalty awarded by VAR three minutes from time.
Roma then had a penalty claim of their own turned down when Patrik Schick tumbled inside the area.
"Last year we asked for VAR in the Champions League because we got screwed in the semi-final and tonight, they've got VAR and we still get robbed," raged Roma president James Pallotta.
However, UEFA insisted on the Schick incident "no clear and obvious error had occurred and that there was no ground for a VAR intervention and an on-field review."


Hazard stunner gives revived Real Madrid win over Huesca

Updated 01 November 2020

Hazard stunner gives revived Real Madrid win over Huesca

  • Belgian forward ends goal drought as he thrills fans with brilliant first-half strike

MADRID: Eden Hazard scored his first goal for Real Madrid in over a year and his team appeared to turn a corner as they beat newly promoted Huesca 4-1 in La Liga on Saturday.
Hazard has had a terrible time with injuries since joining Madrid for €100 million ($113 million) from Chelsea in 2019 but the Belgian will hope his stunning strike from distance at the Alfredo di Stefano can kick-start his career in Spain.

Karim Benzema and Fede Valverde made the win secure before Huesca scored through David Ferreiro, only for Benzema to add his second and Madrid’s fourth in injury-time.

Zinedine Zidane’s side jump above Real Sociedad to the top of the table to cap an encouraging week, which began with a Clasico win over Barcelona at Camp Nou and finishes with them moving nine points clear of the Catalans, who were playing away at Alaves on Saturday.

In between, Madrid came too close for comfort to another damaging defeat in the Champions League but two late goals salvaged a draw at Borussia Monchengladbach that in the end felt like a win.

Huesca, who are yet to win this season, might feel the scoreline was harsh after they squandered early chances.

Madrid will hope the dip that put Zidane under pressure earlier this month is over.

Zidane will have been particularly delighted with Hazard, whose goal was his first for Madrid since he scored against Granada in October last year, and his second overall in La Liga.

Ankle surgery kept Hazard out for the majority of last season and he was not fit for the start of this one, with Madrid only describing his latest setback as a “muscle injury.”

But he made his first appearance off the bench in the Champions League in midweek and against Huesca marked his first start with a brilliant goal in the first half.

Until then, Huesca had been the better team but Hazard’s strike turned the contest in the 40th minute, when he received the ball on the half-turn and swerved a superb shot into the corner from 30 yards out.

Benzema made it two, chesting down Lucas Vazquez’s cross at the back post and driving in, before Valverde struck a sweet half-volley into the corner.

Ferreiro gave Huesca brief hope with 16 minutes left but Madrid were never overly troubled and Benzema rounded off the win in injury-time, converting a smart header back from Rodrygo.