'A very clear handball': Where was VAR when it was needed?

From BBC - January 13, 2018

Video assistant referees (VAR) were used in English football for the first time this week, but the technology's absence in the Premier League was felt by two managers on Saturday.

The technology made its debut in English football, albeit on a trial basis, as Brighton beat Crystal Palace in the FA Cup on Monday, and was used again in the Carabao Cup semi-final first leg between Chelsea and Arsenal, but referees in the Premier League do not have access to it yet.

And, predictably perhaps, out of six of the 15:00 GMT kick-offs in the Premier League on Saturday, two games contained controversial incidents affecting relegation-threatened sides.

Swansea felt they should have been awarded a first-half penalty in their 1-1 draw at Newcastle, while Southampton believe they were denied a win at Watford as Abdoulaye Doucoure used his hand to net a 90th-minute equaliser in their 2-2 draw.

At St James' Park, with the game goalless, the home side's Mohamed Diame appeared to handle the ball after Swansea's Mike van der Hoorn had flicked it towards goal.

"My assistant says it's a very clear penalty and a red card also, so it's another decision that creates something important but what can we do? Nothing, only talk about this," said Swansea boss Carlos Carvalhal.

"This is one of the situations VAR will in the future say 'clear penalty' - it will be clear."

The draw - and a win for West Brom - left Swansea still at the foot of the Premier League table, four points behind 17th-placed Bournemouth.

Meanwhile at Vicarage Road, Watford's Doucoure used his hand to score Watford's dramatic late equaliser - an incident that BBC Final Score pundit Kevin Kilbane called "an absolute disgrace".

"I think Doucoure has been one of the best players in the Premier League this year - but that is clear handball," said Kilbane. "He's got his hand up by his head - it's as clear a handball as you are ever likely to see. Southampton desperately needed this win, and the officials have robbed them - it's really poor."

It denied Southampton a first win in 10 league games as Watford erased a 2-0 half-time deficit, leaving the Saints 16th - ahead of Bournemouth on goal difference before the Cherries face Arsenal on Sunday.

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