VAR penalty shows defenders need to adapt, says Spurs defender Vertonghen

Referee Bjorn Kuipers awards a penalty to Manchester City after reviewing an incident with VAR. (Action Images via Reuters)
Updated 10 April 2019

VAR penalty shows defenders need to adapt, says Spurs defender Vertonghen

  • City were awarded a penalty in the 13th minute of Tuesday’s first-leg tie by VAR
  • Vertonghen has urged the decision-makers to think like footballers

LONDON: Tottenham defender Jan Vertonghen says defenders will have to adapt to VAR after the latest controversial incident in the Champions League quarterfinal win against Manchester City.
City were awarded a penalty in the 13th minute of Tuesday’s first-leg tie at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium when Raheem Sterling’s shot hit Danny Rose’s arm.
None of the players appealed at the time and it was only after the VAR official advised Dutch referee Bjorn Kuipers to review the incident that the spot-kick was given, in line with UEFA’s directive on the handball law.
Spurs goalkeeper Hugo Lloris ensured that it was not a potentially decisive moment, saving Sergio Aguero’s tame effort from 12 yards before the hosts went on to win 1-0.
Vertonghen has urged the decision-makers to think like footballers, saying he feared there could be a huge increase in penalties awarded once VAR is up and running in the Premier League next season.
“I think we have to change the way we defend,” he said. “We are not pulling people down but even a small touch, if you watch it 20 times in slow motion, it will give so many more penalties.
“I think you’ll see in the stats in the next few years in the Premier League, you will see at least 20, 30, 40 more penalties.
“I think we all need to adapt — the players, the referees and how they think as a player sometimes.
“Sometimes you can’t do anything else than put your body on the line and I don’t even know, but it’s important that referees think as a football player sometimes.
“You can’t even touch anyone. Before it was quite physical, but in a fair way. But now you are too scared to get close to someone.”
Rose said the ball hit his arm but said he did not believe his arm was “outside his body.”
“I’m not sure I can complain,” he added. “I haven’t seen it again. It did hit my arm but it certainly wasn’t intentional.”
“I’m just grateful Hugo saved it and we kept a massive clean sheet, scored at the end and have something to look forward to next week.
“It’s unnatural to try to defend a shot with your arms behind your back and I’m not sure that’s something the manager would be promoting. But there’s not much I can do, I have to learn from it.”




Liverpool cruised to a 2-0 victory in their quarterfinal clash against FC Porto on Tuesday. (AFP)

Meanwhile, elsewhere on Tuesday, Liverpool built a 2-0 lead over Porto heading into the second leg of the quarterfinals thanks to first-half goals by Naby Keita and Roberto Firmino at Anfield on Tuesday.
“Positive, good, we won 2-0 ... we controlled the game, had direction of the game,” said Klopp, whose only criticism of his players was for the number of free kicks they gave away in dangerous areas. “We knew we had to play the second game and we cannot decide the tie tonight.”


Man United beats Chelsea 2-0, throws open race for Champions League spots

Updated 18 February 2020

Man United beats Chelsea 2-0, throws open race for Champions League spots

  • Headers by Anthony Martial and Harry Maguire ensured the win

LONDON: Manchester United threw open the race for the final Champions League qualification spots in the Premier League by beating fourth-place Chelsea 2-0 thanks to headers by Anthony Martial and Harry Maguire on Monday.
With 12 games remaining, seven points separate Chelsea and 11th-place Burnley, with the team finishing fifth also set to earn a place in next season’s Champions League following UEFA’s decision to punish Man City for serious breaches of financial regulations by handing the English champions a two-year European ban.
Martial glanced in a header off a right-wing cross by Aaron Wan-Bissaka to give United the lead in the 45th minute at Stamford Bridge, before Maguire planted home a corner from January signing Bruno Fernandes in the 66th.
Maguire, United’s captain, was perhaps fortunate to still be on the field, with the match officials opting not to punish the England defender for appearing to kick out at Michy Batshuayi after tumbling off the playing surface in front of the dugouts.
“I know I caught him but I felt like he was going to fall on me and the natural reaction was to straighten my leg so that if he was to fall on me, to hold him up,” Maguire said. “It probably looks worse than it was.
“I did catch him ... but I knew at the time I had no intent to hurt him or kick him.”
Chelsea was on the wrong end of two other decisions by VAR, firstly disallowing a volleyed goal by Kurt Zouma in the 56th because of a push by Cesar Azpilicueta on United left back Brandon Williams. Azpilicueta seemed to have been pushed a split-second earlier by Fred.
Then, with 13 minutes to go, substitute Olivier Giroud had a goal ruled out by VAR for a tight offside, leaving Chelsea manager Frank Lampard looking thoroughly glum as he sat in his technical area.
Chelsea has long been in fourth place, but has only won three of its last 11 games in the league to give a slew of rivals clubs hope of catching up.
One of them is United, which climbed to seventh place with this win — three points behind Chelsea and two adrift of fifth-place Tottenham.
“This season, we have been far too inconsistent,” Maguire said. “We have won at Manchester City, beat Chelsea at home, got a point against Liverpool, but we have let ourselves down against the teams where the pressure is on to break them down.”
Injury problems are starting to bite at Chelsea, too. Top scorer Tammy Abraham and winger Callum Hudson-Odoi missed the game because of injury, while central midfielder N’Golo Kante lasted 11 minutes before hobbling off. Center back Andreas Christensen didn’t come out for the second half after sustaining a knock to the head late in the first period, just before Martial beat the Denmark defender to a header for the first goal.
Lampard’s main gripe, though, was his team’s failure to finish off chances once again. Batshuayi was the biggest culprit, spurning two great chances in the first half in his first start in the league this season.
“We are fourth because of some of the good stuff we’ve done and because of the nature of the league, everyone taking points off each other,” Lampard said. “But there’s a lot of work to do because you can see the problem — that’s putting the ball in the back of the net.
“I feel like a broken record. We have to put things to bed by scoring goals.”
Chelsea hosts Tottenham on Saturday and would finally get overtaken with another loss.
“The season starts here,” Lampard said.
Nigeria striker Odion Ighalo, who signed for United on deadline day in the January transfer window, came on in second-half stoppage time for his debut and had a late chance saved by Willy Caballero, who again started in goal ahead of Kepa Arrizabalaga.
Two players struck the post from free kicks in the second half, Fernandes for United and Mason Mount for Chelsea.