Manchester United advanced to the fourth round of the FA Cup on Monday evening with a slender 1-0 victory over Aston Villa. Things could have been very different, however, without the involvement of VAR.
United took the lead inside the first ten minutes when Scott McTominay nodded home an inviting ball into the box from Fred.
From that point on, though, the visitors dominated proceedings at Old Trafford – and were ultimately unlucky to lose the match.
Villa believed they had snagged a reward for their efforts early in the second half as Danny Ings found the net from close range after a John McGinn free-kick had been flicked on.
Steven Gerrard’s side were forced to halt their celebrations when it became clear that VAR was checking for a possible infringement.
A farcical delay of almost four minutes then occurred while multiple angles of the build-up to the goal were examined.
Referee Michael Oliver eventually chalked the would-be equaliser off after consulting his pitchside monitor – because Villa’s Jacob Ramsey was deemed to have been offside when he blocked off Edinson Cavani as the set-piece was played into the box.
It seemed a harsh call, especially as the decision looked marginal at best.
United can consider themselves very lucky. A similar goal would have stood at the majority of the FA Cup ties that took place over this past weekend as VAR technology was only in operation at Premier League grounds.
Alan Shearer and Micah Richards, who covered the match as pundits for BBC Sport, were both critical of the decision to have video assistants in place at some venues, but not others.
Shearer, in particular, had plenty to say on the matter.
“We should not be using VAR in this game if we can’t use VAR in every FA Cup game wherever that may be you shouldn’t be using VAR in this game,” argued the Newcastle legend.
“I understand that it’s Premier League grounds only but we were at Hull on Saturday where they should’ve had two penalties if VAR were there. They got dumped out of the cup because of that.”
“The consistency is not good enough,” agreed Richards. “It’s not the same. It’s not fair.”
Even with VAR in use, Shearer felt referee Oliver had made the wrong decision in disallowing Ings’ goal.
“I’m not 100 per cent certain that Cavani was getting back for the goal.
Quiz: Which year did these 15 club icons leave Manchester United?
“He’s clever and I think he’s been done and he doesn’t attempt at all to get around him.
“Some would say he doesn’t have to but is it a clear and obvious error? I don’t think it is because I’m not certain Cavani is going to get to the ball.
“When they look back at it, Ramsey was stood to the right. He impedes him but you don’t know if Cavani was going to get there.”
Richards echoed his colleague’s views: “He held his ground, he stepped to the side and Cavani ran into him and it took so long to make the decision it was just ridiculous.”
You can check out the pair’s damning analysis below.
Alan Shearer and Micah Richards slam VAR use after Manchester United v Aston Villa
Ironically, VAR will be in use for United’s next FA Cup tie as the Red Devils have been drawn at home to Middlesborough in the fourth round of the competition.
Interim boss Ralf Rangnick will be hoping that his side put on a far better performance in that clash – and don’t require technology to bail them out again.
VAR SAVES MAN UNITED! Manchester United 1-0 Aston Villa (Reaction from The Football Terrace)