Football

Valverde proud of Barca's reaction to disallowed goal

Controversy in top-of-the-table clash reignites calls for goalline technology

Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde praised his side's temperament after Lionel Messi was denied a clear goal in their 1-1 draw with second-placed Valencia yesterday morning (Singapore time).

Messi's 30th-minute strike slipped between Valencia goalkeeper Neto's legs and crossed the line but somehow, none of the officials saw it.

Messi then celebrated along with his teammates, but referee Ignacio Iglesias Villanueva allowed play to go on and Valencia almost scored at the other end as Simone Zaza flashed a shot just wide, narrowly averting more controversy.

La Liga is the only top flight among Europe's five leading leagues to shun goalline technology. However, it intends to introduce video assistant refereeing (VAR) for controversial decisions next season, joining joining Germany's Bundesliga and Italy's Serie A.

"Messi's goal was very clear," said Valverde. "The important thing is to not let the tension of the game overcome you and we didn't lose our concentration against a very strong side.

"It was a good game, a little marred by one controversial moment.

"We know the potential Valencia have at home and, although we don't go away completely satisfied, we managed to take something positive from the game."

Valencia, who performed below par in the first half, improved after the break and went in front when Rodrigo tapped home from close range.

However, Barca responded to stay unbeaten in this season's La Liga, when Messi's lofted pass was volleyed home by former Valencia left back Jordi Alba eight minutes from time.

"It was a monumental error by the referee," Alba told Movistar on the disallowed goal. "Even I could see it was in from the middle of the pitch. We saw the replay at half-time and it's clear.

"You can interpret a foul in a certain way but plays like this have to be seen."

Barca midfielder Sergio Busquets believes that is too late for a league that markets itself as the best in the world to introduce VAR only next term.

"La Liga has the best players in the world and the best league also deserves the best technology," he said.

Even Valencia's assistant coach Ruben Uria backed the introduction of technology as soon as possible and admitted his side were lucky that Messi's goal did not count.

Valencia coach Marcelino Garcia Toral, who has rejuvenated Los Che after two seasons in the doldrums, was forced to watch from the stands due to a touchline ban.

Said Uria: "It's a shame that these situations still arise. We are in favour of technology and this time, it has fallen in our favour."

This was not the first time that Barca were denied a legitimate goal. Last season, it also happened during a 1-1 draw with Real Betis, when television replays showed that the ball had crossed the line.

Former Barca and England striker Gary Lineker also felt aggrieved. He tweeted: "Mad that they don't have goalline technology in La Liga.

"Think they'll be revisiting the debate after Messi's goal was ruled not to have crossed the line when it clearly did."

While goalline technology just determines whether the ball has crossed the line, VAR can also be used for decisions on red cards, penalties and cases of mistaken identity.

VAR involves assistant referees watching the action remotely and then drawing the referee's attention to officiating mistakes or serious incidents that have been missed.

"There will be a lot of things that VARs can't clear up, but I hope that they can help with things likes today," said Busquets.

"It's an evolution which we need. It's something we need. And not just for this goal." - WIRE SERVICES

Football