Video ref ‘denies’ Portugal
It’s already apparent that new system needs a lot of work ahead of World Cup next year
PORTUGAL and Mexico drew 2-2 in their first Group A match at the Fifa Confederations Cup yesterday with both sides scoring late goals and the new video assistant referee system taking centre stage.
Portugal, wearing black armbands in tribute to the victims of the Portuguese wildfires, thought they had gone ahead through Pepe but the video assistant referee ruled the goal out for offside.
They soon did go 1-0 up on 35 minutes, however, when Ricardo Quaresma scored following clever play by Cristiano Ronaldo but Mexico hit back in the 42nd minute through a bullet-diving header from striker Javier Hernandez.
Cedric Soares made it 2-1 to Portugal with a deflected effort four minutes from time but Mexico’s Hector Moreno then headed in the equalizer in stoppage time.
Both sides are now level in second spot in the group after hosts Russia beat New Zealand 2-0 in the tournament opener on Saturday.
CONCACAF Gold Cup champions Mexico made all the early running without fashioning a clear-cut chance at the Kazan Arena.
They were made to pay as European champions Portugal grew into the game.
Captain Ronaldo, linked in the media with a move away from Real Madrid after being accused of tax fraud in Spain, thumped the crossbar from distance and from the next passage of play Pepe had the ball in the net.
The players ran off to celebrate but around half a minute later the referee suddenly signalled he was talking on the radio with the video assistant referee.
After another pause, he signalled the goal had been disallowed because of offside.
TV replays showed four Portugal players had been in an offside position as the ball was played into the box but the referral was over so quickly, it was difficult to see who was among the four.
The video assistant referee system is being tested at the tournament to see if it will work at next year’s Fifa World Cup, also in Russia, and teething problems are already apparent.
Portugal quickly rallied from the disappointment. Ronaldo found himself in space on the left and played a superb pass inside the box to Quaresma, which outfoxed the Mexico defence and left his teammate with an easy finish.
Quaresma soon dragged another effort just wide but Mexico burst back into life when Portugal defender Raphael Guerreiro completely missed the ball and Vela did well to cross for Hernandez to head home.
The second half was a dull affair until Portugal’s Adrien Silva went close before Soares put Portugal back in front with his deflected shot. The video referee also took a while checking the validity of the goal but it was allowed.
Moreno then popped up to head a corner in off the post for a share of the points.
The Confed Cup, which brings together the continental champions, world champions and the next World Cup hosts, acts as a dress rehearsal for the next year’s World Cup.
Australia play Germany in today’sonly match in a Group B encounter at Sochi.
LAST GASP: Mexico’s Hector Moreno, along with Javier Hernandez and Oribe Peralta, celebrates scoring his side’s second goal against European Champions Portugal in their Fifa Confederations Cup encounter last night.