VAR causes havoc during Liverpool’s Cup tie with West Brom

Video Assistant Referee has caused more controversy with two major decisions going against West Brom during their FA Cup tie with Liverpool.

Their clash was the only game selected from this weekend’s FA Cup fixtures to use VAR to overturn decisions and it was called upon three times just in the first half alone. 

The system can only intervene on four incidents – goals, red cards, penalties and mistaken identity.

Craig Pawson had to consult VAR three times during Liverpool’s FA Cup tie with West Brom

Saturday’s referee Craig Pawson decided to consult the VAR system for the first time after West Brom had scored a third goal – with the score at 2-1 – through Craig Dawson during the first half at Anfield.

On the video replay it showed Gareth Barry was in an offside position and was obstructing goalkeeper Simon Mignolet as Dawson made contact with the delivery.

Pawson was advised he had made an obvious and clear mistake and he responded by chalking the goal off.

Moments later West Brom were on the wrong side of technology again. Mohamed Salah went down in the penalty area under a challenge from Jake Livermore.



Even the home supporters – with VAR very much at their aid – were booing, such was the degree of divisiveness surrounding technology at Anfield.

Nobody inside this stadium knew what was happening as Craig Pawson twice went upstairs within three minutes with decisions which benefited Liverpool hugely.

That extends to the players and their respective benches, with Pawson seemingly the only man with any semblance of a clue.

Hundreds of Liverpool fans in the Main Stand howled with derision as the referee pondered awarding them a penalty.

The paying public want to see fast-moving matches and the 180 seconds it took to award the hosts a spot kick for Jake Livermore’s tug on Mo Salah.

Was it a clear and obvious mistake? Possibly not. It seemed an incident more likely to have come under umpire’s call during a Test match.

In any case, that Salah pointed towards the television screen behind the dugouts as soon as he’d hit the deck is worrying. This needs refining if it becomes common place.


Pawson looked bemused as Salah made claims for a penalty. He clearly had not seen the incident and again had to consult VAR.

The replay showed Salah had a strong case for a penalty. As the ball was swung in from the right, Livermore grabbed hold of the Egyptian’s arm and tugged him back.

Salah fell dramatically but it was a penalty nonetheless. Pawson was being told to make the decision but seemed apprehensive having only just delivered a sucker punch to Alan Pardew’s men.

To be sure he done something no referee has done yet. He took the short trot over to the screen to double check for himself.

Three minutes later, and satisfied with the initial advice he was given, Pawson gave the signal. There were cheers from the home support that customarily greets a goal. 

They proved to be premature. Roberto Firmino leaned back and sent the subsequent penalty crashing into the bar. The ball bounced straight down into the ground before being hacked cleared.

Again there were cries from the Liverpool fans to check the system, but there was no need this time, the ball had clearly not crossed the line.

Pardew, who would have felt hard done by at this stage, would have seen it as justice prevailing.

West Brom eventually scored their third just before the interval. Again Pawson had to refer to VAR for an offside call during the move. This time the goal stood. 

During the half-time interval retired referee Chris Foy leapt to the defence of Pawson and the VAR system.

‘The thing is, when we’ve looked at VAR — we’ve seen it in MLS and Serie A and Bundesliga — it takes about two minutes and 30 seconds when the referee goes to the referee review area to look at the decision,’ he told BT Sport.

‘And I think the most important thing is… yes it takes time, but it’s about getting the big decision right and on this occasion Craig Pawson went, he looked at it, he reviewed it and he quite rightly awarded the penalty kick. So albeit has taken a little bit of time we shouldn’t be too critical. And I imagine as we move on it will take less time.

‘Four minutes is a long time but as I’ve said the average is about two minutes-thirty, but this is only the sixth time we’ve used it in England and I think this is the first time the referee has been over to the screen so we don’t want to be too critical.

‘It will get better. It is the start of a journey and let’s just see where it takes us.’