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
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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."


Afghanistan will fear no one at the Cricket World Cup, claims Rashid Khan

Updated 19 March 2019
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Afghanistan will fear no one at the Cricket World Cup, claims Rashid Khan

  • Spin King Khan sends down warning ahead of ODI showpiece.
  • Boast comes just a day following Afghanistan's first Test win in just their second Test.

LONDON: Afghanistan will fear no one at the Cricket World Cup — that is the confident message from the side’s spin king Rashid Khan.
That warning comes just a day after Khan’s teammate Mohammad Nabi declared the side could beat any Test side after they recorded their first ever Test win — a seven-wicket victory against Ireland —  in just their second Test.
Before they can prove Nabi right, however, Afghanistan’s focus is purely on this summer’s ODI World Cup. At last year’s Asia Cup, Afghanistan made a breakthrough by topping their group in the 50-over competition ahead of established Test nations Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. And that has given Khan and Co. the confidence they can shock a few established teams in England.
“We have the talent and we have the skills,” the leg-spinner said. “How we played in the Asia Cup was totally different and we showed that we can beat any side,” said Khan, whose side even tied a match with heavyweights India in the last-four stage.
“The only thing is to believe in your skills. Just to be relaxed in big matches and enjoy your game,” he said.
“And that’s how we should be in the World Cup.”
Afghanistan only gained one-day international (ODI) status in 2009 and Test status in 2017, but their recent rise has coincided with Khan’s emergence as a world-class spinner. The 20-year-old tops the world Twenty20 bowling rankings and lies third in the 50-over standings.