Manager Chris Wilder, of Sheffield United, was left baffled when a technical error denied the Blades victory at Aston Villa.
Three minutes before the break, Oliver Norwood’s first-half free-kick over the line was carried over by Orjan Nyland. Nyland attempted to claim Norwood’s deep free-kick but was bundled across the line by teammate Davis.
However, it was clear that the ball was crossing the line, but the watch of referee Michael Oliver did not signal a goal.
Wilder insisted the ball was clearly over:
“It was in the Holte End, the goalkeeper was in the Holte End and eight rows back. Everyone knew it, saw it and felt it.
“I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. Already the jokes have started, I’ve just seen Del Boy with a Hawk-Eye watch on. It’s all going to come out but we’re pretty disappointed and we’ve got to get on with it.
“I believe a decision should have been made from Stockley Park (the VAR centre). For someone to tell me with seven cameras and this is the first time it’s happened in over 9,000 games it’s a difficult one to take.
“We’ve got Chris Kavanagh (fourth official), one of the best referees in the Premier League and Michael Oliver possibly one of the best referees in Europe and if you ask them they’ll be scratching their heads over how this situation occurred.
“We believe it should have been referred (to VAR).”
When the action progressed, VAR did not interfere either, and Villa won a free-kick, beginning a new action process – as it may have done in the interim.
A statement from the Board of Professional Game Match Officials explained that when technology failed VAR did not interfere. It read:
“Under the IFAB protocol, the VAR is able to check goal situations, however due to the fact that the on-field match officials did not receive a signal, and the unique nature of that, the VAR did not intervene.”
Hawk-Eye, who runs the technology, even issued a statement apologizing for the error, saying that the fact goalkeeper Nyland, Keinan Davis and the post had meant that no camera had seen the ball cross the line.
Goal-line technology thus failed to give a winner to visitors, and VAR failed to intercept this error, in a match which continued to end in a 0-0 tally.
It prevented the Blades from jumping into fifth over Manchester United as they continue to mount a surprise challenge for Europe.
This was the only real flashpoint for United as they were struggling to assert themselves on a side of Villa which lacked a cutting edge for all their efforts.
Villa had been slightly stronger and Dean Henderson denied Conor Hourihane and John McGinn as Davis and Kortney Hause went over. But they failed to move out of the bottom three ahead of hosting Chelsea on Sunday.
Even Villa boss Dean Smith admitted that Villa was getting lucky.
He said: “We controlled the first 30 minutes but we got away with one, certainly, with the technology not working. But I’ve been in the other position where technology has not been good for us at times.
“There’s always going to be some error, we have human error from officials and we have to accept that.
“There’s going to be errors in technology as we’ve seen with VAR this season and now for the first time ever with Hawk-Eye. We just have to accept it and move on, there’s nothing else we can do.
“We’re the ones who go away disappointed even with that controversy. The fact that we just show that the performance was good. We need to maintain that level.”