VAR has been a mixed bag in the Premier League thus far. While it has helped referees make the correct decision in the majority of cases, the way in which it has been used has left a lot to be desired at times.
Every weekend there seems to be a couple of obvious calls that are missed by the technology. This is largely down to the high threshold of intervention that has been set by the Premier League, which essentially means that there would have to be a huge error from the referee before the on-field decision is overturned.
That is what makes today's decision in the Brighton-Everton game so surprising.
Irish striker Aaron Connolly went down in the penalty area under pressure from Michael Keane and it initially seemed to be a nothing incident. However, replays would show that Keane stood on Connolly's foot as he was about to receive the ball.
The decision would go to VAR, where it was expected that the penalty would not be given. Much to everyone's surprise, the spot kick was awarded.
(The incident will play automatically when you click on the video below.)
This looks like a penalty to us, with Keane clearly standing on Connolly's foot. The Brighton man probably went down a bit easy, but it's almost impossible to get a penalty if you don't hit the floor.
If this happened anywhere else on the pitch there would be very little argument against awarding a foul.
However, many don't share that opinion. Gary Lineker is amongst that bunch, claiming it was never a penalty.
VAR hasn’t given a penalty this season, finally gives one to Brighton for next to nothing. The bar that has been at pole vault heights has descended to limbo dancing levels. 🤦🏻♂️🤷🏼♂️
— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) October 26, 2019
It wouldn't be like Lineker to have an Everton bias to be fair. Others shared that sentiment.
Football is done if accidentally standing on an opponents foot while never once looking for it is a penalty. VAR isn't the problem though, its the shite English referees using it. Should still have had enough to beat Brighton, but that made it harder than it needed to be
— NSNO.co.uk - Everton website (@nsno) October 26, 2019
Right @premierleague if that's a fucking penalty to Brighton, then every single corner kick ever taken in the Premier league is also a penalty. There's more contact than that every time! Absolute scandal.
— Day (@Day89) October 26, 2019
Football is a joke VAR is a joke, if that's a penalty (Brighton v Everton) I'm finished with football and the cheats in the game on and off the pitch
— Liam Walsh (@COYB1878DF) October 26, 2019
Just seen the ‘penalty’ that #VAR gives for the ‘foul’ on Connolly.
I mean, seriously. SERIOUSLY? Shambles...
— FPL Family (Lee) (@FPLFamily) October 26, 2019
— We Are Brighton (@wearebrighton) October 26, 2019
Terrible officiating there. Connolly getting a penalty is disgraceful
— Betoffees (@betoffees) October 26, 2019
Incidental nick and Connolly did a full Neymar to draw VAR's scrutiny. Disgraceful and gutless call
— Good Baseball Guy ⚾️ (@warrencb11) October 26, 2019
Connolly also played a part in Brighton's opener, winning the free-kick that would be converted by Pascal Groß.
He was a handful all day, which is an excellent sign as we head into a do-or-die qualifier against Denmark next month.