THE Video Assistant Referee (VAR) dominated debate in Sydney FC’s 2-0 win over Perth Glory.
It took the VAR three minutes and 44 seconds to review and uphold Shaun Evans’ decision to award the Sky Blues a penalty in the 42nd minute.
Evans had penalised Joseph Mills for a point-blank handball from Luke Wilkshere’s shot, but the VAR was unsure whether the moment was worthy of a spot-kick.
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After a long delay, Evans eventually ran over to the sideline to review the vision himself, and then stuck to his original decision.
Bobo stepped up to convert the penalty, but Perth coach Kenny Lowe, who had lost patience and briefly stormed off down the tunnel, was at a loss to explain why it took so long to review the decision.
“Run out of electricity it was taking that long to make a decision,” Lowe told Fox Sports after the game.
He added: “I think the duration said everything.”
“Then the boys up top dragged the referee in to make a decision.”
Lowe continued: “At the end of the day they [Sydney] deserve the win, but we have to sort that [VAR] out. It’s making a mockery of the game. Let’s get it done and dusted.”
“If the ref is going to make a decision, let him make a decision.”
Sydney FC full-back Luke Wilkshere and former Socceroo John Kosmina agreed that the decision took too long and stopped the flow of the game
“It’s a long time… It’s just a bit too long for my liking,” said Wilkshere at full-time.
Kosmina said at halftime: “It’s too long.”
He added: “The simple thing here is it’s a handball. Everyone can see it.”
“I don’t know why Shaun Evans had to come over to the side and a decision couldn’t be made [without the screens].
“It was an easy one to make.
“The shot was on target, it was going towards goal, Mills’ arms stopped the progress of the ball. It’s a pen.”
Former Wellington Phoenix attacker Paul Ifill tweeted: “Var is a shower of s***!”.
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But Sydney coach Graham Arnold wasn’t frustrated with the amount of time it took to make a decision – so long as it was correct.
“It’s what the VAR is here for; to try and make those correct decisions and make it a clear decision,” Arnold told Fox Sports after the game.
“Of course it’s a bit frustrating for the time it took but that’s what it’s here for and people have to get used to it.”
Bobo’s converted penalty came after he missed his first Sydney spot kick 20 minutes earlier when David Carney had been fouled by Mills from behind.
The game didn’t stop for a VAR review, and Kosmina agreed with the referee’s call to give a penalty.
“David Carney was smart here,” said Kosmina.
“He’s backed into Joseph Mills. Mills had no choice but to sort of put his hands on him but it was a well-earned penalty in terms of the theatrics of it for the end result there.
“If you have your hands on somebody, the referee’s probably going to look at the incident.”
However, the referee didn’t award a penalty for a similar incident minutes earlier when Jordy Buijs appeared to push Andy Koegh to the ground.
Kosmina argued that the Perth forward was looking for a foul and the Sydney defender was never fully committed to the challenge.
“He’s already going down,” said Kosmina.
“The thing is that Jordy Buijs pulled out of the challenge. He hasn’t actually competed. Keogh’s still continued with forward movement.
“Buijs was quite smart. I think he read the script because Keogh’s already in position ready to fall forward and, in reality, he probably should’ve been up ready to get a shot on target.”
Sydney won a third penalty in the stoppage time when a counter-attack ended in Milos Ninkovic being brought to ground by Xavi Torres.
However, there was no controversy surrounding the decision and substitute Adrian Mierzejewski stepped up to score his first A-League goal for the Sky Blues as the game finished 2-0.
The goal came moments after Andrew Redmayne’s superb save denied Glory an equaliser in the second minute of stoppage time.
Redmayne thwarted Adam Taggart’s point-blank after he was found by a Mills cross, and then Sydney cleared their area before winning the ball back and countering through Alex Brosque, Matt Simon and Ninkovic.
Simon slid a pass to Ninkovic in the box, and he was taken to ground by Torres.
“He [Ninkovic] was a great level of quality across the 90 minutes, and that’s what you want from a footballer,” said Kosmina.
“You don’t want these peaks and troughs. He delivers most of the time. He had a quiet game last week against the Wanderers in the derby but this week he was back to his comfortable best and caused a few problems.”
But Arnold was upset that the three points were almost snatched away in the game’s final moments.
Sydney dominated the match and had 10 shots on target compared to Perth’s four on target.
“We worked quite hard on our defence this week and I think we forgot how to put the ball in the back of the net,” said Arnold.
“We should’ve been all over them at half time and you keep them in the game at only 1-0, Redmayne has to make a great save.”
He added: “But we’ll get better and better. We’re only half of what we can be.”
The Sky Blues coach acknowledged that Liam Reddy made some fabulous saves in the first half – including two in a matter of seconds to deny Wilkshere – and said his team is only performing to 50 per cent of their ability.
Arnold said: “It’s one of those days. You have to give credit to Reddy for them, he made some good saves.”
“But it’s about the execution and Wilkshere could’ve had a hat-trick first half. That’s how far we’re getting our full-backs forward.
“Another night it will be different and someone will cop it.”
Perth side failed to mount a consistent threat attack on Sydney’s goal, but Lowe was happy with what he saw in the second half and from his new star signings – Mitch Nichols and Jake Brimmer – who came on as substitutes.
“They [Sydney] deserved the win. First half they showed it,” said Lowe.
He added: “But fair play to us. We came back a little in the second half, came into the game a little bit more and had an opportunity at the end.”
“He’s [Nichols] in a good place. And the young kid – Jake Brimmer – came on and contributed, which helped us get a little touch of the ball and be a bit more composed, and just back ourselves a little bit, which we didn’t do in the first half.”
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