World Cup VAR review: Perisic handball, Neymar dive & all the major incidents at Russia 2018

Ivan Perisic France Croatia World Cup final 2018Shaun Botterill
  • Ivan Perisic N'Golo Kante Croatia France 150718Getty

    France vs Croatia - Perisic handball leads to penalty

    VAR: Yes

    Verdict: Opinion split

    The first-ever use of VAR at the World Cup final occurred during the first half of France vs Croatia.

    With the score tied at 1-1, following an own goal from Mario Mandzukic and a leveller from Ivan Perisic, the Croatia goalscorer soon found himself at the centre of controversy.

    An Antoine Griezmann corner was delivered to the near post towards the head of France's Blaise Matuidi. Perisic knocked the ball behind the goal, with the French team's claims for a handball largely ignored by referee Nestor Pitana.

    The incident was then checked by officials, with Pitana then notified, and the referee proceeded to review the claim on the pitch-side screen.

    Pitana eventually awarded the spot-kick, which Griezmann converted to give Les Bleus a 2-1 lead going into half time.

  • Jordan Henderson, EnglandGetty

    Colombia vs England - Barrios only shown yellow

    VAR: No

    Verdict: Wrong decision

    With Harry Kane having been brought down just outside of the box, England had a good chance to open the scoring with a free-kick.

    Tensions rose in the wall between Wilmar Barrios and Jordan Henderson, however, with the former first headbutting the Liverpool man in the chest before raising his head, catching the midfielder's chin – though many felt the latter overplayed his reaction to the impact.

    The referee opted not to go to VAR for what could have been construed as a piece of violent conduct, but did present Barrios with a yellow card.

  • Spain Russia World Cup 2018Getty

    Russia vs Spain - Spain denied extra-time penalty

    VAR: Yes

    Verdict: Correct decision

    Russia were desperately clinging on to a 1-1 draw with Spain after taking the 2010 champions to extra-time in Moscow.

    When a late delivery was whipped into the box, Sergio Ramos and Gerard Pique felt that they were being held by Ilya Kutepov and Sergei Ignashevich respectively. Their protests were waved away at the time, with further frustration facing La Roja - who would go on to lose in a penalty shoot-out - following a VAR review.

  • Artem Dzyuba Russia Gerard Pique SpainGetty

    Russia vs Spain - Russia awarded penalty

    VAR: No

    Verdict: Correct decision

    Spain were apparently comfortable at 1-0 up against Russia in their last-16 match when their hosts were awarded a corner.

    Gerard Pique missed his header from the kick, allowing Artem Dzyuba to head the ball goalwards. However, the Barcelona defender blocked it with his hand, despite not facing the man he was supposed to be marking. He had moved his hand upwards in an unnatural motion and, once the kick had been awarded, Dzyuba beat David de Gea from 12 yards.

  • Colombia Milorad Mazic VAR SenegalGetty

    Senegal vs Colombia – Senegal denied penalty

    VAR: Yes

    Verdict: Correct decision

    Senegal and Colombia were 0-0 in the first half of their final Group H fixture when Sadio Mane was seemingly through on goal before being tackled by Davinson Sanchez.

    At first glance it looked to have been a clean tackle by Sanchez but the referee immediately pointed to the spot. After consulting with the VAR, however, the referee then overturned the decision to give the spot-kick as Sanchez's challenge on Mane was clean.

  • Costa Rica Switzerland 2018 World CupGetty

    Switzerland vs Costa Rica - Ruiz offside scuppers penalty call

    Towards the end of Costa Rica's clash with Switzerland, the Ticos were up in arms over a penalty call when Bryan Ruiz was felled in the area. Upon video review, however, it was deemed that Ruiz had been in an offside position when receiving the ball, leading to play being brought back for a Switzerland free-kick. 
  • Young Gwon Kim South Korea GermanyGetty

    South Korea vs Germany - Kim goal awarded after initial offside call

    VAR: Yes

    Verdict: Correct decision

    Reigning champions Germany were eliminated at the group stage and had salt rubbed in their wounds by VAR, as an overturned offside decision ensured that their exit at the hands of South Korea.

    Joachim Low's side desperately needed a victory to progress but, despite their best efforts, struggled to break the Koreans down and were undone in added time.

    When Heung-min Son's corner ricocheted off a number of players on its way to Young-Gwon Kim at the back post, the Guangzhou Evergrande man needed no second invitation to fire past Manuel Neuer. 

    Referee Mark Geiger initially disallowed the goal, citing offside, but after inspection from the VAR team it turned out that the ball hit off Niklas Sule on its way to Kim and the decision was correctly overturned.

    Things went from bad to worse for the Germans when Neuer was comically dispossessed in the Korean half, allowing Son a free run at goal and the Tottenham star wrapped things up with a close-range finish.

  • Javier Hernandez Mexico Sweden World Cup 2018Getty Images

    Mexico vs Sweden - No penalty for Hernandez handball

    VAR: Yes

    Verdict: Correct decision

    Sweden needed a win over Mexico in order to book their place in the last 16 of the tournament and they were disappointed not to be awarded a penalty on the half-hour mark when the ball appeared to hit the arm of Javier Hernandez in the box.

    Argentine referee Nestor Pitana refused Swedish pleas for the West Ham striker to be penalised and, after consulting the VAR, stuck with his initial decision.

    However, Sweden would get a penalty in the second half after Hector Moreno felled Marcus Berg inside the box. No VAR was necessary on that occasion, however, as Pitana pointed straight to the spot and Andreas Granqvist stepped up to score his second penalty of the competition.

  • Argentina Nigeria World Cup 2018Getty

    Nigeria vs Argentina – Nigeria denied penalty

    VAR: Yes

    Verdict: Correct decision

    Nigeria were 1-1 with Argentina heading into the final quarter of the game when Ahmed Musa's cross is deflected into the air, where it was headed by Marcos Rojo onto his own arm.

    The Super Eagles called for a penalty and after much deliberation on the pitch, the referee consulted with the VAR – and decided that there was no spot-kick to be given.

    It was the right decision as it was poor defending, but not intentional by Rojo.

  • Portugal Iran World Cup 2018Getty

    Iran vs Portugal – Iran awarded penalty

    VAR: Yes

    Verdict: Incorrect decision

    Portugal were leading 1-0 up against Iran heading into stoppage time before Sardar Azmoun headed the ball down onto Cedric Soares' arm from close distance.

    The referee awarded the penalty to Iran despite the fact that the contact was unintentional, and VAR confirmed the spot-kick. 

    Karim Ansarifard scored to equalise for Iran which dethroned Portugal to Group B runners-up, after Spain finished their match against Morocco 2-2. The decision to award the penalty was a monumental one as had Iran scored from their last-gasp chance at the end of stoppage time to win the tie 2-1, they would have eliminated Portugal.

  • Cristiano Ronaldo Portugal Iran World Cup 2018Getty

    Iran vs Portugal - Ronaldo awarded penalty

    VAR: Yes

    Verdict: Correct decision

    Portugal were 1-0 up against Iran when Cristiano Ronaldo picked up the ball at the edge of the penalty area, cut across it and then ran into Saeid Ezatolahi – who clipped him – and then went down to the ground.

    The referee initially told him to get up but then VAR intervened as he went to have another look at the incident – and then proceeded to award the penalty.

    The spot-kick taken by Ronaldo was then saved by Alireza Beiranvand.

  • Salman Alfaraj Saudi Arabia World CupCatherine Ivill

    Saudi Arabia vs Egypt - Saudis given second penalty

    VAR: Yes

    Verdict: Incorrect decision

    After Egypt goalkeeper Essam El Hadary, the oldest player in World Cup history, made a fantastic penalty save in the 41st minute, Saudi Arabia were awarded a second chance from the spot just six minutes later. 

    Fahad Al-Muwallad went down in the box under minimal contact from Egypt defender Ali Gabr with both players pulling their opponent's shirt and, after a VAR review, the call was upheld and Gabr was awarded a yellow card. 

    Salman Al Faraj stepped up and buried the penalty, giving Saudi Arabia their first goal of the 2018 World Cup.

  • Harry Kane England Panama World Cup 2018Getty

    England vs Panama - Kane awarded hat-trick

    VAR: Yes

    Verdict: Correct decision

    England captain Harry Kane had drilled home two penalties in the first half to help his side to an emphatic 5-0 lead at the break against Panama.

    Just past the hour mark and Kane had his hat-trick when Ruben Loftus-Cheek's shot deflected off the Tottenham striker and into the net.

    VAR was called to check on whether Kane was offside and, though at first glance it appeared he was, the hat-trick hero was being played onside by the heel of a Panama defender.

  • Jerome Boateng Marcus Berg Germany Sweden World Cup 2018Getty Images

    Germany vs Sweden – Berg denied a penalty

    VAR: No

    Verdict: Incorrect decision

    Sweden's Marcus Berg was seemingly through on goal after a loose ball but was deliberately fouled by Jerome Boateng for Germany. The Swede stumbled in the box after contact was made for what should have been a clear penalty given, and yet the ref made no motion to stop play to consult with the VAR.

    Germany headed into the fixture knowing that they if they lost the game, they would be out of the competition. The incident happened early in the first half when the score was 0-0, and a penalty would have buoyed Sweden's hopes – and crushed Germany's.

    The situation is similar to when Harry Kane was brought down in the Tunisia box for England twice and should have earned at least one penalty, and yet the referee did not check with the VAR.

  • Eden Hazard Belgium 2018 World CupGetty Images

    Belgium vs Tunisia - Hazard awarded penalty

    VAR: Yes

    Verdict: Correct decision

    Eden Hazard collected the ball on the edge of the area and dribbled towards goal, before Syam Ben Youssef lunged in carelessly.

    Hazard, of course, went down, and the referee pointed to the spot, despite Ben Youssef claiming that the contact was outside the box.

    VAR subsequently looked at the decision, and decided that the contact did take place in the area. Hazard stepped up to score the penalty and give the Red Devils a deserved 1-0 lead.

  • Aleksander Mitrovic Serbia 2018 World CupGetty Images

    Serbia vs Switzerland - Mitrovic denied

    VAR: No

    Verdict: Incorrect decision

    Aleksandar Mitrovic scored Serbia's opening goal against Switzerland, but was denied what appeared to be a clear penalty in the second half.

    While jumping for a header, Mitrovic was grabbed by Swiss defenders Stephan Lichtsteiner and Fabian Schar, who dragged the Newcastle United striker to the ground.

    Referee Felix Brych inexplicably waved play on, and Serbia went on to lose 2-1, with Granit Xhaka and Xherdan Shaqiri turning the game around.

  • Alfred Finnbogason Iceland Nigeria World Cup 2018Getty Images

    Nigeria vs Iceland - Sigurdsson blunders late lifeline

    VAR: Yes

    Verdict: Correct decision

    A fantastic double from Ahmed Musa saw Iceland trail Nigeria in their second game of the tournament.

    Needing a miracle to keep them in the game, their prayers were seemingly answered by the almighty VAR when it intervened with less than 10 minutes left to award a penalty for Tyronne Ebuehi's foul on Alfred Finnbogason.

    Replays showed that the penalty was the right call as the striker, who netted the decisive equaliser against Argentina, had been clipped.

    However, Iceland threw the chance away when Gylfi Sigurdsson sent it far off target, allowing Nigeria to move up to second in Group D.

  • Neymar Brazil 2018 World Cup

    Brazil vs Costa Rica - Neymar dives for a penalty

    VAR: Yes

    Verdict: Correct decision

    With time running out in Brazil's clash with Costa Rica, Neymar fell over inside the penalty area and the referee initially pointed straight to the spot.

    However, after a VAR review, the referee overturned his decision - much to the Paris Saint-Germain forward's anger.

    Brazil ultimately recovered from the decision to score in stoppage time via Philippe Coutinho and Neymar and triumph 2-0.

  • Mile Jedinak, Australia

    Denmark vs Australia - Poulsen penalised for handball

    VAR: Yes

    Verdict: Opinion split

    Youssef Poulsen found himself at the centre of a second incident involving VAR in Denmark's second game of the tournament, which resulted in the awarding of a penalty to Australia.

    With the Danes leading the game 1-0 thanks to a Christian Eriksen volley, Poulsen was penalised for an apparent handball in the box.

    While defending a set-piece, the ball hit off the RB Leipzig forward's arm and opinion is divided as to whether he meant it or not. 

    Either way, referee Antonio Mateu did not hesitate to use the video assistant and decided that it was indeed a handball worthy of punishment, giving a penalty.

    Unfortunately for Denmark there was no repeat of the Peru incident, as Mile Jedinak dutifully stepped forward to accept the advantage and put the ball beyond Kasper Schmeichel's reach, into the back of the net.

  • Iran Spain VAR World Cup

    Iran vs Spain - An offside equaliser

    VAR: Yes

    Verdict: Correct decision

    There was bedlam in the Iran camp an hour into their clash with Spain, when Saeid Ezatolahi smashed past David de Gea in an apparent equaliser for the Middle-Eastern nation. The celebrations had already started, but as the scorer was mobbed by the entire Iran squad, VAR had already picked up on a marginal offside in the build-up and the goal was overruled. 

  • Kyle Walker England Tunisia World Cup 2018Getty

    Tunisia vs England – A tale of two penalty calls

    VAR: No

    Verdict: Opinion split

    England were leading 1-0 in their opening World Cup fixture against Tunisia before Kyle Walker seemingly brought down Fakhreddine Ben Youssef inside the box. 

    The referee pointed straight to the spot without checking the VAR to make sure, and Ferjani Sassi converted to make it 1-1.

    What has seemed to bring about controversy is the fact that Kane appeared to have been pulled down more aggressively than Ben Youssef in the Tunisia box moments later, with no VAR consultation or penalty given.

    Even with VAR, England fans seem to think that the refereeing in the tournament has been inconsistent and that the referee should have checked it properly before giving the initial penalty – as well as failing to give the same decision for two similar courses of action.

    Kane was brought down again in the second half the same manner in which Croatia got a penalty for against Nigeria, though once again VAR was not consulted.

  • Granqvist - Sweden

    Sweden vs South Korea – VAR-assisted penalty decision

    VAR: Yes

    Verdict: Correct decision

    Sweden got their World Cup campaign off to a winning start against South Korea thanks to a VAR-assisted penalty and their Asian opponents can have little to complain about as it was the correct call.

    When substitute Kim Min-woo appeared to scythe Viktor Claesson in the box shortly after the hour mark referee Joel Aguilar was not interested in Swedish appeals for a penalty, but the VAR cohort were soon in his ear about it. And, after reviewing the incident, he awarded the penalty.

    It was the right decision and Sweden capitalised, with Andreas Granqvist converting the spot-kick to ensure three points.

  • Gabriel Jesus Brazil Switzerland World Cup 2018Getty Images

    Brazil vs Switzerland - Gabriel Jesus penalty incident

    VAR: No

    Verdict: Correct decision

    As Brazil chased victory in their opening game against Switzerland they had claims for a penalty denied and referee Cesar Ramos did not feel that there was sufficient doubt to warrant the consultation with VAR.

    Gabriel Jesus went down after seeming to be impeded by Manuel Akanji in the box, but Ramos had no interest in the claims and waved play on. However, the decision was not too controversial in the end as, unlike some other incidents, replays appear to back up the official's judgement.

    Brazil's football federation (CBF) have taken the issue up with FIFA president Gianni Infantino, though, questioning the conduct of the referee and his video assistants.

  • Neymar Miranda Brazil VAR Switzerland World Cup 2018Getty Images

    Brazil vs Switzerland - Miranda pushed for Swiss equaliser?

    VAR: No

    Verdict: Opinion split

    Tournament favourites Brazil looked set for a familiar opening victory at the World Cup after Philippe Coutinho blasted them into the lead against Switzerland, but they were left reeling when the Swiss equalised in controversial fashion to claim a share of the spoils.

    Defender Miranda claimed to have been shoved in the back by Switzerland's goalscorer Steven Zuber in the build-up to the goal and the Brazilians were not shy about making their views known to referee Cesar Ramos, urging him to consult with his colleagues and the technology. However, the Mexican official was not interested in their pleas.

    After the game, Brazil coach Tite was clearly irked by the non-decision, saying: "If they push the player, what can I say? There was a foul there.

    "I spoke to Miranda and he said, 'When he pushed me I should have fallen' and I said: 'No! Absolutely do not do that, otherwise it's a simulation of the foul. Do not simulate anything.'"

  • Aleksandar Prijovic Serbia Cristian Gamboa Costa RicaGetty Images

    Costa Rica vs Serbia - Prijovic/Acosta incident

    VAR: Yes

    Verdict: Correct decision

    Serbia got their World Cup 2018 odyssey off to a winning start against Costa Rica thanks to Aleksandar Kolarov's stunning free kick, but they could have finished the game with 10 men after the intervention of VAR.

    Aleksandar Prijovic was barely on the pitch a few minutes when he found himself at the centre of a VAR review for striking Costa Rica's Johnny Acosta, who threw himself to the ground in apparent pain.

    Referee Malang Diedhiou asked to see the incident again and, having watched the footage briefly, returned to the pitch to sanction Prijovic with a yellow - instead of red - card.

  • Referee Bakary Bassama Peru Denmark World Cup 2018Getty Images

    Peru vs Denmark - Penalty given & missed

    VAR: Yes

    Verdict: Correct decision

    Denmark were on the receiving end of a VAR review that resulted in a penalty being awarded to Peru in their first match in Group C.

    Yussuf Poulsen was the culprit as his leg touched Christian Cueva as the Peruvian was running into the box and referee Bakary Gassama barely hesitated in consulting VAR for a clearer look and awarded the spot kick.

    However, things took a cruel twist for Peru as Cueva sent his penalty over the cross bar and Poulsen popped up with the winning goal to grant the Danes three points.

  • Cristian Pavon Argentina Iceland World Cup 2018

    Argentina vs Iceland - Cristian Pavon denied penalty

    VAR: No

    Verdict: Wrong call

    Argentina got their World Cup campaign off to a disappointing start as they were surprisingly held to a 1-1 draw against tournament newcomers Iceland in their opening match and there was a controversial penalty claim waved away without consulting VAR.

    The Albiceleste took the lead through Sergio Aguero but were pegged back almost immediately by Alfred Finnbogason. They looked certain to move in front once more when Maxi Meza won a penalty in the second half, but Lionel Messi could not direct his spot-kick past Hannes Halldorsson.

    With time running out, substitute Cristian Pavon appeared to be fouled inside the box by Birkir Saevarsson, but a second penalty was not awarded by the unmoved Szymon Marciniak, prompting disbelief among the Argentine players.

    The absence of VAR in that particular incident was incorrect according to many commentators, with former England defender Gary Neville suggesting that the officials are not capable of viewing the footage quickly enough to ensure the correct call is made. 

    "To me, there is a capability issue here over what we're asking the referees in that VAR truck to do," Neville told ITV.

    "I don't know what's going on in those trucks, but that's the thing they need to be transparent about and show us.

    "I'm not sure they will be able to select the angles quickly enough to get the decision back to the referee before the game has been restarted."

  • Josh Risdon Australia Antoine Griezmann France World Cup 2018Getty Images

    France vs Australia - Antoine Griezmann penalty

    VAR: Yes

    Verdict: Opinion split

    The first-ever use of VAR at the World Cup occurred on the third day during the Group C encounter between France and Australia.

    With nearly an hour played and the score locked at 0-0, Antoine Griezmann went to ground in the box following a tackle by Josh Risdon, but referee Andres Cunha wasn't ready to award a penalty to Les Bleus until the VAR intervened to advise him that it was indeed a foul.

    A number of minutes passed as Cunha reviewed the footage and overturned his initial decision before Griezmann stepped up to fire France into the lead. Soon after the penalty Australia were awarded a spot-kick themselves, which Aaron Mooy converted, but they left Kazan with nothing to show for their efforts thanks to a fortunate 80th-minute goal from Paul Pogba.

    The decision to award the penalty divided opinion among players and pundits alike, with Socceroos goalkeeper Mat Ryan suggesting that they had been "beaten by a better team and almost by technology a little bit."

    "On the replays I have seen it didn't look conclusive," Ryan said after the game. "You hear that technology was brought in to take out clear-cut errors and all this in the game but that's the grey area.

    "What's a clear-cut error and what's not? What's conclusive and what's not?"