Explained: How VAR made 'unbelievable error' as nine-man Liverpool suffered late heartbreak against Spurs

Jurgen Klopp Liverpool 2023-24Getty
  • VAR official misread on-field decision
  • 'Check complete' signal came after judging Diaz onside
  • Decision could not be reversed once play restarted

WHAT HAPPENED? Luiz Diaz's 34th-minute strike for Liverpool against Spurs was ruled out by officials on the field. Television replays appeared to show the Colombian clearly onside, but after a quick check by VAR officials the on-field decision of offside was confirmed with play restarting with a Spurs free kick. After the match, PGMOL, the Premier League's refereeing body, acknowledged that "a significant human error had occurred" in disallowing the goal, although they did not go into detail about the exact nature of the mistake.

WHY WASN'T THE GOAL GIVEN? According to ESPN's Dale Johnson, the mistake centred around VAR official Darren England mistakenly believing that a goal had been awarded to Liverpool. So, after swiftly and correctly checking that Diaz was onside, a decision of "check complete" was relayed back to on-field referee Simon Hooper. Hooper took this to mean that the original decision of offside was correct and he confirmed the decision of offside. Once play was restarted with a free kick to Tottenham it was not possible to correct the error.


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Virgil van Dijk Liverpool 2023-24Getty ImagesJurgen Klopp Liverpool 2023-24Getty Images

THE BIGGER PICTURE: The mistake is a hammer blow to the credibility of VAR which has already been under fire this season. The fact that the error came on a straightforward offside decision will further undermine trust in a system which has changed the way games have been officiated since its introduction.

WHAT'S NEXT FOR LIVERPOOL: The nine-man Reds were already smarting after a series of decisions went against them before an unfortunate injury-time own goal left them with nothing to show for an outstanding backs-to-the wall performance. They'll hope to put it all behind them when they host Union Saint-Gilloise in the Europa League on Thursday evening.