VAR Deserves Credit As Chelsea Book Place In Carabao Cup Final

Spurs were denied two penalties and a goal, but the technology worked on the night
21:47, 12 Jan 2022

From one of VAR’s biggest critics - the decisions tonight prove why it is important in the modern game, especially in cup competitions. Without the technology, Tottenham would have been awarded two penalties, and Harry Kane’s offside goal may have counted, erasing Chelsea’s strong 3-0 lead and changing the outcome of the entire semi-final. 

When Andre Marriner was having a shaky night when it came to the big decisions, the technology was there to help him out and correct him when he needed assistance. As a result, the outcome was fair, as Chelsea booked their place in the League Cup final with a 1-0 win, and a 3-0 success on aggregate.

Manager Thomas Tuchel has never lost a semi-final in his career and kept that unblemished record intact, with a helping hand from the technology. His side played sensibly and could have scored more on the night as they set the pace early on. The returning Romelu Lukaku got onto a long Antonio Rudiger ball before bullying Ben Davies and only seeing his effort denied by Pierluigi Gollini, before Japhet Tanganga nearly turned into his one net. 

Chelsea’s early dominance paid dividends as Rudiger, having nearly set up Lukaku with a raking pass, gave them the lead. Mason Mount’s corner was headed in by the German and the stand-in goalkeeper was left in no-man's land after he came to punch it clear. What looked like a giant task for Tottenham at the start of the night became nye-on impossible after this start. 

And the packed away end loved it. 

A relatively uneventful first half, from Marriner’s perspective, soon turned to chaos as the Spurs begged for, and were awarded a penalty. Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg’s deflected effort gave Spurs a corner, from Which Kane was inches away from equalising on the night and they thought they had been given a huge chance to get back into the match, just before the break. 

Hojbjerg went down under the challenge of Rudiger and although it was a clear foul, VAR ruled it was outside of the box, and Spurs wasted the free-kick. Chelsea escaped punishment, but the officials also came to the correct decision, and it wouldn’t be the only time they were helped out on the night. 

In the second half, Marriner once again pointed to the spot. Harry Kane overhit a pass through to Lucas Moura and Kepa Arrizabalaga met him in the box and cleanly took the ball, a situation once again VAR was forced to help the referee upon. After consulting the monitor, the Premier League referee was able to conclude the goalkeeper had indeed won the ball, and Chelsea escaped again.

That moment strangely fired up Spurs as Lucas saw his header palmed away by the Chelsea goalkeeper and when Kane finally thought he’d got on the scoresheet as he found the net, VAR ruled him offside once again. Although Rudiger was on the six-yard line, Kane had gone beyond the goalkeeper and was therefore offside. 

When it looked like a smooth night all-round, Tottenham fans alerted the stewards attention to a medical emergency in the stands and the game was stopped by the referee. The match did resume, but this was another stark reminder of the general unimportance of football, in comparison to life itself, especially during these difficult times. 

The home stands emptied as the players were serenaded by the Chelsea fans in the away end. Thanks to VAR, they can plan for Wembley next month, where they will face either Arsenal or Liverpool in the Carabao Cup final.

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