Football pundits were left to question the value of the video assistant referee after Chelsea’s controversial penalty shoot-out win over Norwich in their FA Cup third-round replay.
Chelsea won 5-3 on penalties after the match finished 1-1 in normal time, but three Chelsea players – Pedro, Willian and Alvaro Morata – were all booked for simulation, with Pedro and Morata subsequently sent off.
While Pedro was guilty of an obvious dive in the second half, and could have no complaints about his subsequent red for bringing down Wes Hoolahan, the other decisions were not so clear cut.
Willian was clearly clipped by Timm Klose, although referee Graham Scott perhaps felt the Brazilian was already going to ground.
On BBC One, Alan Shearer called Willian’s yellow card a ‘shocking decision’ and the failure of the video assistant to correct it a ‘shambles’.
“We all think that’s an obvious penalty here, and he’s booked him for diving?” he said. “Who on earth is looking at that screen at Stockley Park? What a shocking decision that is. Shambles.”
While Shearer said the decision to book Morata – who then earned a red card for his reaction – was correct, colleague Jermaine Jenas was not so sure.
“It’s another incident that I’ve seen given in the past – but for me Alvaro Morata goes down very easily there,” he said. “It’s a tough one though, because there is contact, so he’s within his rights to go down. I don’t envy the referee.”
Speaking on Radio 5 Live, Phil Neville expressed regret that the VAR system seemed to have created as many problems as it had solved.
“I’m confused,” he said. “I am not a fan. I like the English game as it is, with talking points. Referees get decisions right and get some wrong. That is football.
“If it wasn’t for VAR tonight, we’d be talking about it maybe being a penalty. Now we’ll be talking about it for the next two days because of VAR.”