VAR stole the headlines again on a dramatic night at Southampton as the hosts fell 1-0 to Aston Villa after twice having crucial opportunities denied them.
Villa talisman Jack Grealish teed up Ross Barkley for the matchwinning header which moved Villa into eighth on the ladder.
But that came after Villa had a strong handball shout turned down by the referee inside ten minutes when a Stuart Armstrong shot was blocked by Matty Cash, who clearly used an outstretched arm to deny a likely goal.
Watch every match of the 2020/21 A-League Season LIVE & On-Demand with Fox Sports on Kayo. New to Kayo? Get your 14-day free trial & start streaming instantly >
But referee Lee Mason turned down the appeals, and the VAR did not overturn the decision, believing the ball had deflected off the defender’s thigh into his own arm – something which under the current rules almost always is not an infringement.
Villa defended resolutely after going ahead in the 41st minute, but Southampton appeared to have snatched a point in the dying minutes when Danny Ings buried the ball into the back of the net – only for the assistant referee and then VAR to rule it fractionally off-side.
A Che Adams shot was blocked by Emiliano Martinez, and rebounded to Ings who poked home. VAR ruled that Ings’ – by a fraction of his shirt sleeve – was marginally off-side compared to Adams’ bottom.
The pair of controversial calls sparked outrage on social media, though Villa was all too happy to be on the receiving end of some officiating good fortune.
Cash claimed after the game that the ball struck his leg before deflecting into his hand. “It is hard to defend with your hands behind your back – sprinting around at full pace. I think it hit my quad first, the rules are a bit bad at the moment.”
Aston Villa boss Dean Smith said both decisions were correct: “We got some great blocks at the end there. And some VAR decisions [went our way].
“We’ve not had too many of them, it feels good. The off-side [VAR decisions] I have no complaints with. There’s a line there, it’s what it is.
“As for the handball, I’ve not seen it back but Matt Cash said it came off his thigh.”
And some fans called for teams to ditch the sleeves completely, bringing back the iconic sleeveless jerseys of Cameroon from 2002.
Many were reminded of this controversial call in 2019, when Manchester City’s Raheem Sterling was called offside thanks to Chelsea defender Kurt Zouma’s behind.