So near and yet so VAR as controversies mount up

England were thrust firmly into the middle of the ongoing VAR debate as they launched their World Cup campaign with a hard-fought 2-1 victory over Tunisia on Monday.

Harry Kane’s double ultimately secured three Group G points, but the penalty they conceded and two they were not given despite the assistance available to Colombian referee Wilmar Roldan were the big talking points.

Here, Press Association Sport takes a look at the incidents which have fuelled the discussion to date.

June 18 – Tunisia v England

Tunisia v England – FIFA World Cup 2018 – Group G – Volgograd Arena
England defender Kyle Walker concedes a penalty after colliding with Tunisia’s Fakhreddine Ben Youssef (Tim Goode/PA)

England defender Kyle Walker was astonished to see a penalty awarded against him when Fakhreddine Ben Youssef went to ground after being caught by his arm as he attempted to prevent the frontman from reaching a 33rd-minute cross. Ferjani Sassi converted the resulting spot-kick to level the scores at 1-1.

June 18 – Tunisia v England

Sassi found himself in the thick of the action once again seven minutes later when he appeared to wrestle Kane to the ground inside the penalty area. The England captain protested immediately, but Roldan was unmoved and was not invited to take another look at the incident.

June 18 – Tunisia v England

Moment of the Day (18 June)

England football team captain Harry Kane scored twice including a stoppage-time winner as he led his side to a last-gasp 2-1 win over Tunisia in their opening FIFA World Cup match.🎥 Highlights 👉👀 TV listings 👉

Posted by FIFA World Cup on Monday, June 18, 2018

Kane appeared to be hauled down for a second time six minutes after the restart with defender Yassine Meriah this time the alleged offender. But again, the officials allowed play to continue with no word to the contrary from VAR referee Sandro Ricci and his team.

June 18 – Sweden v South Korea

Russia Soccer WCup Sweden South Korea
Sweden’s Andreas Granqvist, centre, celebrates with team-mates after scoring from the spot (Pavel Golovkin/AP)

Sweden’s winning penalty was awarded following review by VAR. Referee Joel Aguilar initially allowed play to go on after Viktor Claesson was hacked down by Lee Jae-sung, but called a halt moments later after a word in his ear. He looked at the incident again on the pitch-side screen before pointing to the spot and Andreas Granqvist duly obliged.

June 17 – Costa Rica v Serbia

VAR was called upon twice in injury time to look at disciplinary matters. It was ruled no offence was committed after a touchline scuffle involving Nemanja Matic over which team had the right to a throw-in. Aleksandar Prijovic was then booked after catching Johnny Acosta in the face with his hand following another look at replays.

June 16 – Peru v Denmark

Posted by Herrelandsholdet on Saturday, June 16, 2018

The South Americans were awarded a penalty after Gambian referee Bakary Gassama consulted the monitors to check whether Christian Cueva had been fouled by Yussuf Poulsen. Cueva horribly miscued the spot-kick however, with Poulsen scoring the only goal of the game for the Danes.

June 16 – France v Australia

Russia Soccer WCup France Australia
Australia’s Joshua Risdon, left, tackles France’s Antoine Griezmann to concede a penalty (Hassan Ammar/AP)

France benefited from a controversial first use of VAR technology at a World Cup as they laboured to a 2-1 win over Australia. Antoine Griezmann put Les Bleus ahead with a contentious second-half penalty in Kazan after referee Andres Cunha adjudged the forward had been fouled by Joshua Risdon having watched a replay of the incident at the side of the pitch.

Football Paradise Staff Reporter

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