VAR takes centre stage as lucky Man United scrape past West Brom

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Manchester United’s victory over West Bromwich Albion this evening has since seen VAR grab the headlines for all the wrong reasons.

Fernandes makes the difference

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men welcomed the Baggies to Old Trafford a short time ago.

The Red Devils headed into proceedings aiming to build on a much-needed win prior to the international break, when United downed Everton by 3 goals to 1 at Goodison Park.

This brought to an end a run of just one win from their previous 4 in the Premier League, with the Manchester giants having sat in a lowly 14th in the English top-flight table ahead of kick-off this evening.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 07: Bruno Fernandes of Manchester United celebrates after scoring his team's first goal during the Premier League match between Everton and Manchester United at Goodison Park on November 07, 2020 in Liverpool, England. Sporting stadiums around the UK remain under strict restrictions due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in games being played behind closed doors. (Photo by Carl Recine - Pool/Getty Images)

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND – NOVEMBER 07: Bruno Fernandes of Manchester United celebrates after scoring his team’s first goal during the Premier League match between Everton and Manchester United at Goodison Park on November 07, 2020 in Liverpool, England. Sporting stadiums around the UK remain under strict restrictions due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in games being played behind closed doors. (Photo by Carl Recine – Pool/Getty Images)

And, when all was said and done at Old Trafford, make it 2 wins from 2 is precisely what Solskjaer’s men managed.

To say that their 3-point haul was warranted, though, would be something of a stretch.

A frankly dismal display on the part of the hosts eventually saw a solitary strike decide the clash in their favour.

The game’s only goal came 10 minutes into the 2nd-half when, after West Brom’s Darnell Furlong handled the ball in the United box, referee David Coote did not hesitate in pointing to the spot.

Bruno Fernandes saw his initial effort superbly stopped by Sam Johnstone in the Baggies’ goal, only for a subsequent VAR check to reveal that the Red Devils youth product was stood off his line when the ball was kicked.

The penalty, in turn, was retaken, with Fernandes having made no mistake 2nd time round:

The ensuing 40 minutes saw Harry Maguire and Marcus Rashford go close, as Johnstone, looking as though he had something to prove against his ex-side, continued to excel.

West Brom, meanwhile, were desperately unlucky not to level things up when Callum Robinson rattled David de Gea’s crossbar from distance.

In the end, though, as outlined above, Manchester United hung on for all 3 points, to climb into the top half of the Premier League table.

VAR controversy

In the immediate aftermath of proceedings coming to a close in Manchester this evening, a number of noteworthy takeaways have since been widely discussed amongst fans and the media alike.

Unsurprisingly, the disappointing performance of the hosts has garnered much attention, as United continue to look lacking in any real form of identity under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

The industrious display of Chelsea loanee Conor Gallagher has also been on the lips of many Blues fans.

Without doubt, though, as the days and weeks pass, the key talking point when looking back on tonight’s exchanges, from a West Brom standpoint at least, will be the momentum-swinging decision to overturn a spot-kick awarded to the visitors early in the 2nd-half.

Less than a minute after the interval, David Coote’s whistle blew, after Bruno Fernandes was adjudged to have fouled Conor Gallagher just inside the United penalty area.

Subsequent replays certainly appeared to suggest that the decision was the correct one, with Fernandes having seemingly missed the ball, before following through onto the shin of Gallagher.

Manchester United’s Portuguese midfielder Bruno Fernandes (4R) appeals to referee David Coote after a penalty was awarded (and then ruled out by VAR) for a foul on West Bromwich Albion’s English midfielder Conor Gallagher during the English Premier League football match between Manchester United and West Bromwich Albion at Old Trafford in Manchester, north west England, on November 21, 2020. (Photo by Catherine Ivill / POOL / AFP)

As such, considering the clear-cut nature of the incident, it came as something of a surprise when the man in charge was called over to take a 2nd look on the VAR monitor.

And, following a lengthy check, to the bemusement of those watching on, referee Coote eventually came to the decision that his initial penalty call was incorrect.

In turn, the spot-kick was overturned, with West Brom’s chance to take the lead having gone up in smoke.

Less than 10 minutes later, meanwhile, Manchester United went in front at the other end, following the correct application of the rules by the evening’s VAR team.

The penalty call in question, alone, did not decide the destination of the 3 points this evening.

However, with the game on such a knife-edge, and hosts United looking completely bereft of ideas, it is hard to argue that, had West Brom taken the lead just inside the 2nd-half, Bilic’s men would’ve likely gone on to hold on for at least a point.

On a night when focus should be on one of the Premier League’s minnows testing a European giant to the best of their abilities, instead, it is VAR taking centre stage… Again.

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# Team MP D P
1 Chelsea FC 9 12 18
2 Leicester City FC 8 9 18
3 Tottenham Hotspur FC 8 10 17
4 Liverpool FC 8 2 17
5 Southampton FC 8 4 16
6 Aston Villa FC 7 9 15
7 Everton FC 8 2 13
8 Crystal Palace FC 8 0 13
9 Wolverhampton Wanderers FC 8 -1 13
10 Manchester City FC 7 1 12
11 Arsenal FC 8 -1 12
12 West Ham United FC 8 4 11
13 Newcastle United FC 9 -5 11
14 Manchester United FC 7 -2 10
15 Leeds United 8 -3 10
16 Brighton & Hove Albion FC 8 -3 6
17 Fulham FC 8 -8 4
18 West Bromwich Albion 8 -11 3
19 Burnley FC 7 -9 2
20 Sheffield United FC 8 -10 1
Player Team Goals
Son, Heung Min Tottenham Hotspur FC 9
Vardy, Jamie Leicester City FC 8
Calvert-Lewin, Dominic Everton FC 8
Salah, Mohamed Liverpool FC 8
Kane, Harry Tottenham Hotspur FC 7
Bamford, Patrick Leeds United 7
Fernandes, Bruno Manchester United FC 6
Wilson, Callum Newcastle United FC 6
Watkins, Ollie Aston Villa FC 6
Zaha, Wilfried Crystal Palace FC 5
Ings, Danny Southampton FC 5
Grealish, Jack Aston Villa FC 4
Werner, Timo Chelsea FC 4
Mane, Sadio Liverpool FC 4
Maupay, Neal Brighton & Hove Albion FC 4
Jimenez, Raul Wolverhampton Wanderers FC 4
Rodriguez, James Everton FC 3
Jorginho Chelsea FC 3
Adams, Che Southampton FC 3
Ward-Prowse, James Southampton FC 3

Source: 101greatgoals.com