Ref Review: VAR controversy strikes on weekend of penalty wrangling

Burnley penalty TEAMtalk

VAR hit the headlines again this weekend as it took centre stage in a bizarre moment at Turf Moor in Burnely’s win over Barnsley, all in Ref Review.


Refereeing decisions are regularly the source of debate among fans, pundits, players and managers so this season TEAMtalk’s ‘Ref Review’ panel will be passing judgement on every red card (or avoidance of one), every penalty  (or avoidance of one) and any other major incident in each Premier League match.

We may be in the day and age of goalline technology, while VAR made its appearance at the World Cup, but football remains littered with controversies.

We’ll also decide on a weekly basis which side can consider themselves lucky and which was the easiest decision for a match official to make.


Manchester United penalty v Reading

Controversy and confusion at Old Trafford as Fred slotted home after collecting a sweet return pass from Juan Mata. The linesman originally flagged for offside and the ‘goal’ was chalked off, but not before Omar Richards had taken the Spaniard down. After a rather lengthy consultation the video official gave a penalty that Mata dispatched with aplomb. The main issue was whether the pass from Mata to Fred happened before the foul and when those upstairs agreed that it did not, Darren Cann’s original decision (of offside) was changed to a penalty for the Red Devils. The officials essentially took 125 seconds to make the call and such a confusing delay does not bode well with VAR set to grace the Premier League from next season.

Verdict: Correct decision


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Burnley penalty v Barnsley

Burnley penalty TEAMtalk

A truly bizarre FA Cup moment at Turf Moor as Burnley were awarded a first half penalty. Now if Sean Dyche is to be believed that’s pretty unusual in itself these days (it was in fact their first in 16 months), but then with excitement among the home fans building things got a bit Python-esque.

When Matej Vydra stepped up to take the spot kick for Clarets, just as he was about to kick the ball, the referee blew his whistle at the last possible second to say that there was an off-side earlier on! Now replays confirmed that the correct decision was actually reached but the whole process was a shambles and all a bit embarrassing to be fair.

Verdict: Correct decision


Alvaro Morata – Claudio Yacob incident

Big moment at Stamford Bridge as Morata was sent through with a ball from over the top and he then appeared to be brought down by Claudio Yacob when the Forest defender was the last man. Morata jumped up gesturing that the ref take a look at VAR only for the whistler to wave his, and Chelsea’s, appeals for a free-kick away. To be fair it looked a foul and as the last man Yacob should also have walked.

Verdict: Incorrect decision


Chelsea penalty v Nottingham Forest

In what could be his final appearance for the Blues Cesc Fabregas fluffed his lines from the spot after Ruben Loftus-Cheek was fouled in the box by Forest’s Danny Fox. Fox was too slow to react and clearly took the Chelsea man down. Stick on penalty.

Verdict: Correct decision


Grant Hanley red card v Portsmouth

Daniel Farke felt the ref got it wrong in what proved to be the game’s key moment at Carrow Road as Pompey pulled off an FA Cup upset. The Canaries boss claimed ref Darren Bond was incorrect to send off skipper Grant Hanley in the Blues’ 1-0 win. Hanley was given his marching orders after 15 minutes for bringing down Ronan Curtis in what was ruled a professional foul. For us it was only going one way for Hanley as it was a shocking bit of defending. Malicious or not, he was certainly clumsy and also the last man.

Verdict: Correct decision


Newcastle United penalty v Blackburn

Ayoze Perez TEAMtalk

Tony Mowbray labelled the award “soft” as Kevin Friend pointed to the spot after substitute Ayoze Perez had been felled by Corry Evans, thus ultimately preventing another FA Cup upset on Tyneside. To be fair to Mowbray Perez did go to ground very easily but there was contact from Evans so Blackburn can’t feel too hard done by.

Verdict: Correct decision


Oldham penalty v Fulham

He may be the jewel in Fulham’s crown but young Ryan Sessegnon tripped Oldham skipper Peter Clarke with his first act after coming on as a sub. Clumsy.

Verdict: Correct decision


Fulham penalty v Oldham

Claudio Ranieri’s side were then awarded a penalty after Tom Cairney had been fouled, and this one was far less clear cut. The video assistant referee confirmed referee Anthony Taylor’s original decision despite there appearing to have been very little contact made by Christopher Missilou. Fulham would go on to miss the resulting spot-kick, but we are not sure it should have been awarded at all.

Verdict: Incorrect decision


Newport County penalty v Leicester City

Marc Albrighton TEAMtalk

Arguably the result of the round was League Two side Newport knocking out the Premier League champions of 2016. They played brilliantly, deserved their win but needed a late penalty to beat the Foxes, when Marc Albrighton inexplicably put his arm up to block a cross in the penalty area! Crazy from the Leicester man, and a no-brainer for the officials.

Verdict: Correct decision


Team most likely to feel brassed off award


Even though in the end they won the game, ironically via a last-gasp penalty, the decision to halt Matej Vydra during his run up to overturn their first penalty award must have annoyed Burnley. As stated it was the right decision, but it was reached in farcical circumstances. Sean Dyche said afterwards: “I think it was nearly approaching a minute and a half, and me and my staff looked at it and decided in four seconds that it was offside.”


Stonewall decision of the Week

Newport County penalty

The Foxes were poor on the day but still thought they had salvaged a replay after Rachid Ghezzal’s late equaliser. However plucky Newport, currently 13th in the fourth tier, kept plugging away and Albrighton’s blatant handball sent the crowd into raptures.