27th January, 2018
Jay Rodriguez scored twice as West Brom won at Liverpool in an extraordinary FA Cup fourth-round tie dominated by video assistant referee (VAR) decisions.
Referee Craig Pawson ruled out an Albion goal, gave Liverpool a penalty and delayed awarding the visitors’ third goal because of VAR referrals.
BBC reports that Rodriguez thumped an equaliser seconds after Roberto Firmino chipped an opener, then slotted Albion 2-1 up.
Joel Matip’s own goal made it 3-1, before Mohamed Salah pulled one back.
Liverpool’s first-half penalty, which Firmino missed, was a moment of VAR history – as it was the first time a referee in an English game had referred to a monitor on the touchline to make a final decision.
Pawson ruled, after a significant delay, that Jake Livermore had tugged Salah’s shirt, and pointed to the spot.
Liverpool pushed hard for a late equaliser, but were poor for much of the game as they fell to their first home defeat since 23 April last year.
Craig Pawson referred decisions to video assistant referee Andre Marriner three times in the first half
This was only the sixth time in an English club fixture that the VAR system had been used; it proved central in a first half that was full of controversy.
The system can only be used to overturn clear cut mistakes with goals, penalties, red cards and mistaken identities – yet referee Pawson called on it three times in an opening half that ended up lasting 50 minutes.
In each case, it appeared that the right decision was reached, but the main concern for many watching was the delay in making those calls.