Football

More VAR controversy in EPL over the weekend

Lampard bemoans a penalty that was not given, Klopp laments one that was

The video assistant referee (VAR) system again came under the spotlight in the English Premier League yesterday morning (Singapore time) after contentious incidents in the penalty box during Manchester United's 0-0 draw with Chelsea and Liverpool's 2-1 win over Sheffield United.

Chelsea manager Frank Lampard said he was frustrated and confused that his team were denied a penalty after his captain Cesar Azpilicueta was grabbed by United's Harry Maguire in what the Blues boss described as a "headlock" during a corner in the first half.

According to reports in the British media, VAR did not review the incident at Old Trafford.

Said Lampard: "Without doubt, it is a clear penalty. It's not always clear for the referee but the VAR is there. Maguire got Azpilicueta in a headlock...

"They should have taken time and advised the referee to look at the monitor. If he watches the monitor, he has to give the penalty, so it's confusing.

"There's a frustration because the rules seemed to be moving in the right direction.

"The referees were looking at the monitor a bit more at the start of the season."

Azpilicueta agreed, telling Sky Sports: "On the pitch, I felt that it was (a penalty). I was in front of him and felt both arms around my neck and shoulders.

"For me, the referee can't make the decision. The VAR is there and it's difficult for the VAR to say yes or no. I told Martin Atkinson to go to the monitor. They are the men to make the decision."

The sentiment was similar in the Sky Sports studio.

Said former Chelsea striker Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink: "This is 100 per cent a penalty. What is Maguire doing?

"He's just strangling Azpilicueta here and stops him from jumping. He's putting his weight on his shoulders."

Ex-United defender Patrice Evra agreed, saying: "I used to watch wrestling and he reminds me of Hulk Hogan. It's a clear penalty... Why do they check VAR for (the) foul on Marcus Rashford and not for this one?

"I don't understand. I am so confused by VAR."

Meanwhile, over at Anfield, Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp was also frustrated with VAR over the Blades' opener.

Klopp's side trailed to Sander Berge's controversial first-half penalty, with the Reds frustrated that VAR gave the spot-kick despite Fabinho's foul appearing to take place outside the area.

Referee Mike Dean had initially given a foul outside the box before VAR intervened and said Fabinho had impeded Oli McBurnie inside the area.

"It was clear it was a challenge to win the ball," said Klopp, who lost star defender Virgil van Dijk to an anterior cruciate ligament injury against Everton on Oct 17 after Jordan Pickford's reckless challenge went unpunished by VAR.

WRONG END

"We were on the wrong end of another decision and it gave Sheffield a boost so they could really get at us, but luckily we could sort that tonight so maybe I should not talk too much about that...

"The penalty was not even a foul. During a season, there are so many different periods, we have had an injustice and we have had to go again."

Goals by Roberto Firmino and Diogo Jota ensured that the perceived injustice did not deny Liverpool all three points.

Football