Football

VAR would have ruled out our equaliser, says Watford's Deeney

Watford's Troy Deeney had no qualms in saying their controversial last-gasp equaliser against Southampton on Saturday would have been ruled out had a Video Assistant Referee (VAR) been in place at Vicarage Road.

Watford's Abdoulaye Doucoure sealed a 2-2 draw in the English Premier League clash with what most observers regarded as a clear handball in the final minute.

The French midfielder stooped to nod Deeney's header into the net - only for the ball to miss his head and be swept home with his hand.

It was possible to make a case for saying Doucoure's action had been inadvertent rather than deliberate, but not as far as Martin Keown was concerned, with the BBC pundit saying the Watford man had "done a Maradona" - a reference to the football great's blatant handball that helped Argentina knock England out of the 1986 World Cup on the South Americans' way to lifting the trophy.

However, referee Roger East and linesman Derek Eaton either missed Doucoure's action completely or were happy to let the goal stand.

The past week saw VAR introduced into English football, with last Monday's debut in the FA Cup third-round clash between Brighton and Crystal Palace, followed by a second appearance in Wednesday's League Cup semi-final first leg between Chelsea and Arsenal.

However, it is still some way off from appearing in the EPL.

"If VAR had come in, we probably wouldn't get that but today we got it. It's the luck of the draw," Deeney told Sky Sports.

Had Southampton preserved their one-goal lead, it would have been their first Premier League win in 10 matches.

Said Saints manager Mauricio Pellegrino: "My feeling is like the players, we are a little bit sad. The last goal is something that surprised me because in the EPL, the level of referees is good. It's clear (handball)."

The south coast side were not the only Premier League club left regretting the absence of a VAR on Saturday.

Swansea felt that they should have been awarded a first-half penalty in a 1-1 draw at Newcastle that left the Welsh club rooted to the foot of the table.

Again, the issue was an "unseen" handball, with Newcastle's Mohamed Diame appearing to block the ball illegally after Swansea's Mike van der Hoorn had flicked it towards goal.

Swansea manager Carlos Carvalhal told the BBC: "This is one of the situations VAR will in the future say 'clear penalty' - it will be clear." - AFP

Football