The Premier League returned after three months away with a 0-0 draw. Because of course.
But Aston Villa’s statemate against Sheffield United at Villa Park wasn’t without drama and we witnessed a crazy technology fail in the first half.
Sheffield United, who are attempting to qualify for the Champions League, thought they had gone 1-0 up when Villa ‘keeper Orjan Nyland carried Oliver Norwood’s free-kick over his line.
But referee Michael Oliver’s watch didn’t signal a goal and the score remained 0-0.
Goalline technology providers HawkEye later issued an apology and said the failure had never happened in more than 9,000 previous matches.
But former Premier League official Mark Clattenburg wasn’t satisfied with their response or the failure of VAR to intervene.
Clattenburg even went so far as to call the error “scandalous” in his column for the Daily Mail.
“VAR should have intervened and awarded Sheffield United a goal after HawkEye malfunctioned and failed to detect Aston Villa goalkeeper Orjan Nyland carrying the ball over the line,” Clattenburg said.
“Officials need to stop acting like robots and take ownership because a human being has to make the final decision, although I attach no blame to referee Michael Oliver in this instance.
“Rather, if the goal-line technology has clearly failed, then VAR Paul Tierney needs to tell Oliver, ‘Stop, it was a goal’. Or at the very least they should pause and take a closer look at all of the available angles - do that and you quickly realise it’s a goal.
“VAR was brought in to stop the scandal, but this is a scandalous situation. Yes, HawkEye has been 100 per cent reliable in the past and has been a brilliant addition, but the VAR officials had the chance to right the wrong and they failed.”
The former ref, who officiated the 2016 Champions League final, added: “As for HawkEye, I find the Premier League explanation bizarre. They say the cameras were 'occluded by the goalkeeper, defender and goalpost'. But they weren't, we could clearly see the ball.
“When HawkEye was first introduced we, as referees, were told it was fool-proof and that is saw through everything.
“We had concerns, for example, if the ball was buried beneath a scrum of players. So this explanation just does not add up, it should have detected the ball's position.”
Clattenburg is clearly unhappy with the way the technology was used.
With such a huge call, it’s inexplicable that the VAR allowed play to carry on without taking a look.
Sheffield United were hard done by.
- HawkEye's official statement
- Michael Oliver's watch was tested
- Villa and Sheff Utd players take a knee