VAR Review: Rashford red for Man United; handballs, offside

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Video Assistant Referee (VAR) doesn’t seem to cause much controversy in the Champions League over the cream of Europe’s referees, but every now and then a game makes headlines.

– How VAR decisions have affected each Prem club in 2023-24
– VAR in the Premier League: The Ultimate Guide

FC Copenhagen’s dramatic 4-3 loss against Manchester United on Wednesday was littered with incidents, including a VAR red card and two penalties, as well as potential offside decisions and handball claims. We watch all the plays.

39th minute: Rashford departs

What happened: Marcus Rashford takes control of the ball under pressure from outside the FC Copenhagen area Elias Gelert. The Manchester United forward went to ground and tried to shield the ball after contact with the striker. Referee Donatus Rumsas allowed play to continue, but VAR, Tomasz Kwiatkowski, initiated a review for serious foul play.

VAR decision: Red card.

the game the game

1:52

Burley has ‘no doubt’ why Marcus Rashford deserved a red card

Craig Burley believes Manchester United’s Marcus Rashford deserved to be sent off for a tackle on him. FC Copenhagen in UEFA Champions League.

VAR Review: As explained in our Premier League VAR reviews in the past, a number of factors are taken into account when assessing whether a player has endangered the safety of an opponent. One is contact with the studs on the top of the boot, another is the ankle strap which indicates a level of ball.

Rashford was unlucky not to have made a tackle, yet intent was taken out of the law several years ago. Instead, a player needs to be aware of where their opponent is and not play in a way that is expected to cause them injury.

Many former players said they disagreed with Rashford’s sending off, but in the modern game it’s always a red card — especially since the video referee watches everything again.

The referee will have questions about showing the event in slow motion, and a freeze frame of the point of contact. Yet the point of pitchside monitors is always lost on this: the screen exists to present evidence for the referee to change his decision, not for a second look. It’s not an impartial process, but it’s not intended to be — because the point of the VAR process is that a clear and obvious error has already been identified. This is always going to be an area that supporters will struggle to grasp, especially when partners continue to refuse to allow broadcast discussions with VAR.

There was confusion because at one point, the VAR message on the television broadcast said “check over” before the referee went on the screen to make a decision. UEFA also initially mistakenly said the red card was for a bruised hand before correcting it to serious foul play.

45th minute: Probable offside in Illunusi goal

What happened: FC Copenhagen were brought back into the game by Mohamed Illunosi when he deflected a pass from Diogo Gonsalves, but was ruled offside. Elias Achouri?

VAR decision: The goal is standing.

VAR Review: Achouri was definitely in an offside position when Elyunussi hit his shot, it was only a matter of whether Manchester United goalkeeper Andre Onana was affected. Achauri being in that position is not a crime in itself.

Was Achauri in Onana’s view? It’s close, but Onana seems to just see the ball. VAR will also consider that the shot went to Onana’s left (not near Achouri.).

Achouri is moving away from the ball’s path, not toward it, and making no moves to try to make a play.

It is the kind of subjective decision that is left to field officials. If the assistant had flagged, the goal would have been disallowed.

45+7 mins: Penalty for Maguire’s handball

What happened: FC Copenhagen equalized deep into first-half added time when referee Harry Maguire awarded the spot kick for handball.

VAR decision: Gonsalves scored from the penalty.

VAR Review: Gonsalves attempted to push a cross played into the box, which bounced off Rafael Varane’s thigh and into his arm. The defender had his hands by his side, so there was no handball here.

The ball then came back to Gonsalves, who tried to flick the ball around — but it hit Maguire’s outstretched arm and the referee immediately pointed to the spot.

If the match referee has given this decision there is no room for VAR intervention — especially in Europe.

However, in the Premier League, where there is a more relaxed interpretation of handball, the referee may consider Maguire’s hand contact as a consequence of his movement when challenging an opponent from close range.

66th minute: Penalty for handball by Leregar

What happened: The ball was played in the Copenhagen area, Lucas Lerager challenged Maguire for the ball. It hit Leregar on the arm but the referee let play continue.

VAR decision: Bruno Fernandes scored from the penalty spot.

VAR Review: It’s a classic UEFA handball penalty, the kind that wouldn’t be awarded by VAR decision in the Premier League. Indeed, Maguire missed a handball penalty earlier this year in similar circumstances against Nottingham Forest.

Maguire flicked the ball into his own hands, and then into Lerager’s arms from point-blank range. The FC Copenhagen player is in a real challenge for the ball with both Maguire and Varane, with his arms in the expected position for his movement and not creating any obvious barriers.

If a player (Maguire) intentionally heads the ball and it hits their own arm, it cannot be a handball — even if the arm is away from the body. It was then decided that Lerager’s hand away from his body was a handball offense — despite the proximity.

Earlier this year, the newly formed UEFA Football Board, made up of former players and coaches, Requested for more clarity on handball laws Yet as confusing and frustrating as it always seems, the inconsistencies across the competition should not be forgotten.

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