Sunday, September 20, 2020

VAR controversy overshadows Aussie win

VAR played a massive part once more as the Aussie Women overturned a two goal deficit to beat Brazil 3-2 in Montpellier. The game will be marred by VAR controversy but the Matilda’s won’t care one bit about that – they’re back in the hunt.

The game started in a pretty tense manner I thought, with Australia sitting on the front foot from the start. The Aussies had a huge shout for a pen on 20 minutes when Tameka Yallop went down in the box under the challenge of Thaisa. The ref stopped the game to talk to her colleagues in the VAR booth and after what seemed like an age, she decided to run to the side of the pitch and view it herself.

She didn’t actually look at the challenge, she looked at how Yallop won the ball in the middle of the park, replays showed the ball bounced up and hit her hand as she won it back. The referee decided that it was handball and therefore the penalty incident was moot – no penalty.

Less than six minutes later, Leticia Santos went down in the opposing box as Elise Kellond-Knight tugged her shirt and much to the dismay of the Aussies, the ref pointed to the spot. After another lengthy VAR delay, the decision was upheld. The legend that is Marta stepped up to take the penalty, which she of course buried. That’s her 16th ever World Cup goal as she becomes the first ever to score in FIVE separate World Cups.

Aussie win blighted by VAR

Aussie win

Brazil then went and doubled their lead on 38 minutes when Tamires skilfully beat the defender before playing the ball down the wing to Debinha. The winger whipped the ball into the box towards the head of Cristiane who was never going to miss a guilt-edge chance like that. 2-0.

Australia pushed and pushed to get themselves back into the game and right on the stroke of half-time, Caitlin Foord popped up. The ball in from the left wing was headed on by Chloe Logarzo before Foord turned it in at the back post. Game on!

In the second period, Australia came out of the blocks like a team possessed. After piling the pressure on, they eventually got their equaliser through Logarzo after 58 minutes. It wasn’t actually a shot on goal, she was to the right of the box and she looked to pick out the star striker Sam Kerr in the box. Her cross beat everyone, including Kerr, and nestled in the far corner.

Australia continued to pile on the pressure and Brazil were really struggling to get out of their own half. Then, not long after the hour mark, VAR reared its ugly head once more. There was a hopeful ball played forward towards the head of Sam Kerr. Kerr ran in behind and Monica rose to head it clear – but she didn’t quite get that right as the ball skidded off her head and beat Barbara in her own net.

The assistant referee immediately flagged for offside and the goal was chalked off. Replays showed Kerr was offside when she started her run in behind, although she didn’t touch the ball, she influenced the decision of the defender to attempt the header. VAR got involved, and the referee ran to the side of the pitch to check the incident herself. After a lengthy delay, she decided there was nothing wrong with it and awarded the goal.

The right decision? Not for me, but then again, that’s not up to me to decide. As far as I’m concerned, VAR is getting far too many decisions wrong to be considered a success – not just at this tournament, but in general. It needs to be taken back to the drawing board, or better yet, just scrapped entirely.

Ultimately, the goal was given and Australia hung on to claim their first win of the tournament. Had they lost today, they would have been effectively eliminated from the tournament, so there’ll be no complains in the Matilda’s camp tonight. The same cannot be said for the Brazilian camp though – the legend Marta looked furious at the full-time whistle.

What did you think? Correct decision? Let us know in the comments below.

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Kieran Harm
Kieran hails from Newcastle-Upon-Tyne and holds a degree in Sports Journalism from the University of Brighton. He covers a range of sports, specialising in football and NFL. Kieran is a long-suffering member of the Toon Army as well as a very proud member of Broncos Country.

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