UEFA has explained all the VAR decisions from the Champions League this week
This week's Gazprom wasn't exactly short of drama. Then again, it never is
There were some exceptional Champions League ties earlier in the week, from Ajax's complete dismantling of Real Madrid at the Bernabeu, to the Ole Gunnar Solskjaer-spun wizardry that saw Manchester United vanquish PSG, to Porto's extra time slugfest against Roma.
Remarkably, the star player of all three encounters was VAR, the Video Assistant Referee system that basically seemed to make each and every decision based on whatever would cause the most drama. Which I, for one, am absolutely here for.
However, seemingly in a bid to prove that wasn't the actual logic going on, UEFA has now released an explanation regarding all the key turning points during each match in which our new lord and saviour VAR was involved. Here they are.
Real Madrid 1 - Ajax 4
The decision in question here occurred moments before Dusan Tadic, who was possessed by the ghost of Johan Cruyff for some reason, put Ajax 3-0 on the night. Ajax midfielder Hakim Ziyech won the ball from Real Madrid's Marco Asensio before stretching to keep it in play. The linesman didn't flag and Ajax swept up the pitch to score and put the game out of sight. The decision was sent to the VAR for lengthy analysis but in the end, wasn't overturned.
Ball in/out of play - 62’
"There was no conclusive evidence that the ball would have been entirely out of play from all video angles and images that were carefully analysed by the VAR.
"The assistant referee, who was perfectly positioned, had adjudged that the whole ball had not fully crossed the touchline. No on-field review was therefore required. Consequently, the referee was right not to intervene and to allow the goal."
PSG 1 - Manchester United 3
You were likely watching this one live. If you weren't, what the fuck were you doing instead? I had the honour of taking it in whilst sat in the club bar at Dulwich Hamlet with Cherno Samba. That sounds like a joke. Let me assure you that it isn't. Anyway, the controversy here stems from a handball that led to Marcus Rashford's decisive penalty in the 94th minute which swung the tie in United's favour at the death.
It came from United's young fullback Diogo Dalot hitting a hopeful shot from just outside the area that was blocked by PSG centre back Presnel Kimpembe before flying harmlessly out for a corner. There was a half-hearted appeal from Dalot and practically nobody else but the referee was advised by the VAR to review the footage. After what seemed like an age he awarded a penalty, which Rashford smashed home beyond a despairing Gigi Buffon. Then Neymar pulled this face, which, after a VAR review, has been ruled 'absolute peak little sadboi behaviour'.
Penalty award - 90'
"The VAR, after checking various different angles available to him, recommended to the referee an on-field review following the penalty area incident.
"Given that the referee did not recognise the incident clearly during live play (referred to as serious missed incident in the VAR protocol) an on-field review was conducted.
"Following the on-field review, the referee confirmed that the distance that the ball travelled was not short and the impact could therefore not be unexpected. The defender’s arm was not close to the body, which made the defender’s body bigger thus resulting in the ball being stopped from travelling in the direction of the goal. The referee, therefore, awarded a penalty kick."
Porto 3 - Roma 1 (AET)
There were not one but two huge decisions involving VAR in this game and both happened in extra-time, drama which just about overshadowed the Edin Dzeko/Pepe shithouseathon that occurred during the initial 90 minutes.
The first was a VAR reviewed offside that inadvertently led to a Porto penalty after a foul was spotted - Alessandro Florenzi sneakily pulling the shirt of Fernando Santos. Alex Telles promptly converted the pressure spot-kick to hand Porto the tie in the 117th minute.
Roma then thought they had a penalty shout of their own just moments later as Patrick Shick went down in the Porto box under pressure from the considerably hefty Moussa Marega. The referee called no foul but delayed the restart as the VAR reviewed the footage.
Penalty award - 116’
"The VAR, after checking the offside line - which confirmed the attacker to be onside - asked the referee if he had seen the holding offence committed by the AS Roma defender.
"The referee confirmed he was unaware of any holding during live play and he asked for the images to be prepared to allow him to conduct an on-field review (serious missed incident). The review convinced the referee that a penalty kick should be awarded for a holding offence."
No VAR intervention - 121’
"The referee was close to the action and had himself seen the potential incident in live play and judged that there was no foul.
"The referee nevertheless decided to delay the restart of play, to give more time to the VAR to review the different camera angles available. A VAR check was conducted, and the various images were studied carefully by the VAR, who did not find any clear evidence.
"The referee was then informed by the VAR that following the check no clear and obvious error had occurred and that there was no ground for a VAR intervention and an on-field review.
"All the above-mentioned decisions were made in full compliance with the VAR protocol."
So there you have it. No more arguing, no more excuses. Let's all just get on with our lives until the inevitable 'Robert Lewandowski goes down under a light challenge from Virgil Van Dijk, ref waves play on, VAR review, Bayern Munich penalty' consumes our minds, souls, and indeed, our entire lives from this point onwards next Wednesday.
Imagine not liking football. Just imagine it.