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VAR chaos spices up Liverpool-West Brom FA Cup tie

Liverpool (AFP) – West Bromwich Albion were denied a goal by the new Video Assistant Referee (VAR) system and had another confirmed by the technology in a dramatic start to an FA Cup tie that still saw them establish a 3-1 half-time lead over Liverpool at Anfield on Saturday.

With the Baggies already 2-1 up, they had a third ‘goal’ chalked off by VAR, which is being trialled in English Cup competitions this season, when referee Craig Pawson ruled out Craig Dawson’s effort from a corner after using the system to determine that Gareth Barry was offside and interfering with play. 

But the anger West Brom felt at that decision was as nothing to their fury minutes later.

Liverpool’s Mo Salah thought he had been brought down by Jake Livermore inside the box and Pawson again turned to VAR for assistance.

Minutes passed, with spectators inside the ground uncertain as to what was going on – unlike similar systems in use in rugby and cricket, football fans are not informed as to what the referee is looking at.

Players from both sides surrounded Pawson who extended the process still further when, after the VAR, who was in a studio some 100 miles away from Anfield, appeared to have given his own judgement, the referee — as he can do under the protocols — then checked the replay himself on a pitchside TV monitor.

Pawson gave Liverpool the penalty to the fury of the visitors, with Barry booked for dissent. 

But the edge was taken off West Brom’s seething anger when Roberto Firmino’s spot-kick hit the crossbar.

And there was still time in the opening period for yet another VAR review when, following a Joel Matip own-goal that put the Baggies 3-1 up on the stroke of half-time, Pawson signalled for a consultation on a possible offside before letting the goal stand.

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