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Liverpool 2-3 West Brom: Alan Pardew criticises ‘bizarre’ VAR in FA Cup fourth round win

West Brom manager Alan Pardew has called the video assistant referee system “bizarre” after it dominated their 3-2 FA Cup victory at Liverpool.

Pardew argued that use of VAR – with three major first-half calls made – affected the atmosphere at Anfield.

He also suggested the time delay in making decisions led to hamstring injuries for two of his players.

“In the stadium, it was bizarre, because we got no evidence of what happened,” Pardew told BBC Sport.

“There’s no screen for us. So it’s not like tennis, when the ball’s in our out. We’re completely in the dark. Everybody’s in the dark. Is it a goal? Isn’t it a goal?

“I think if you were in the stadium today, and you experienced that system in the first half, you would have to doubt it.”

How does VAR work?

This was only the sixth time in an English club fixture that the VAR system had been in place.

The system can only be used to overturn clear-cut mistakes with goals, penalties, red cards and mistaken identities.

In the first half at Anfield, referee Craig Pawson consulted with video assistant referee Andre Marriner in ruling out an Albion goal, giving Liverpool a penalty and causing a delay in awarding the visitors’ third goal.

Pardew added: “The other issue, which I think is more concerning, is that I lost two players to hamstrings in that first half.

“We have to keep our players ticking over. It took so long. You’re going from such high-tempo work to literally waiting. That’s something we need to look at.”

How VAR controversy unfolded at Anfield

VAR deems West Brom goal offside
  • 20 mins: Craig Dawson has a goal ruled out that would put West Brom 3-1 up when Gareth Barry is adjudged to have interfered with play from an offside position on VAR viewing.
Firmino misses controversial VAR penalty
  • 22 mins: Pawson uses his pitch-side monitor to check whether or not to award a penalty to Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah after a foul by Jake Livermore. Amid a three-minute stoppage, Pawson changes his mind and awards Liverpool the penalty, which Roberto Firmino misses.
Matip OG gives West Brom two-goal lead
  • 45+2 mins: Shortly before half-time, Pawson checks VAR for two minutes before awarding the Baggies’ crucial third goal as the game experienced another delay.
‘Surely he doesn’t need to review that one’
  • 50 mins: A minute delay occurs early in the second half when Dawson is caught offside following an aerial battle with Simon Mignolet and it goes to a video review.
  • 78 mins: There are also suggestions Pawson may have communicated with Marriner after Salah scored Liverpool’s second goal but there is no stoppage in play despite some confusion from staff and supporters.

‘It seemed to go on and on’ – pundits’ analysis

MOTD: ‘FA need to speak to rugby to iron out VAR’

Former Aston Villa striker Dion Dublin on MOTD: The referee got all the decisions bang on, the VAR decisions were spot on – we have got to give him credit for that. But the way they got to the decisions, the referee putting his finger to his ear for a good 20-30 seconds, people in the crowd don’t know what’s going on, managers don’t know what’s going on. There has to be more clarity. I’m a fan of VAR, it is going to take a while for them to get it right.

They (the fans) need to know what’s going on, they need a quicker decision, but I don’t think you’re going to get that yet because the ref and the VAR people in the booth are not used to it either. So they have got to have patience with the referees.

I think if the football associations went to the rugby associations, they would get it right.

Former Liverpool midfielder Danny Murphy on MOTD: The penalty was the bad decision, it seemed to go on and on and it was not difficult. If you have someone upstairs with the evidence, make a decision – either stick with the referee or tell him it’s wrong and crack on. I’m glad they’ve got the decisions right, it does need some tweaking but it is better that we have got it.

It helped West Brom, the one thing you want away from home is you want to stop the game, make it stop-start.

Get screens in the stadium, that would help the fans.

Former Everton midfielder Pat Nevin on BBC Radio 5 live: I think the referee and the VAR has got every single one of those decisions right.

In the early days of this system, VAR, there’s always going to be a lot of misunderstanding about it from the players and the fans. Because the West Brom players complained about their disallowed goal, but it was offside. And they complained about Mo Salah’s alleged dive, but he was pushed. And again they were right to check West Brom’s third goal, because it was close, but they were right – it was a goal.

Shambolic? A joke? Or does it just need time? Your view on VAR

Kim Coates: VAR should be easy to use but it’s a joke. Is every goal and penalty decision going to be looked at? Wait until it goes against a big club. Turning football into a sterile game.

Javel Bleach: It was a foul, a penalty, VAR was right, the world saw it, and luckily, this time, the ref was right too. No polemic. Let the game be won by the better team, not by bad decisions.

FA Cup: Liverpool 2-3 West Brom highlights

David Smith: Why can’t the ref make the box sign when he’s referring a decision instead of at the end, like in cricket and rugby. That way the crowd have some idea.

Gyimah: The VAR is certainly a game-changer and you wonder why it took so long, but the players should stop the heckling and following the referee during VAR decisions – you don’t see that in NFL and cricket.

Marlo: The only thing more shambolic than Liverpool’s defending is the application of VAR.

Mark: VAR works in rugby and cricket, which are more stop-start games, in football it just stops the flow and the drama of the game to a certain extent. Not convinced.

Sunil: VAR means you can’t even celebrate a goal anymore. The decisions may be right but the flow of the game is completely ruined! And the fans at the ground are completely in the dark.


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