The Citizen (KZN)

Thanks to VAR Villa escape with a draw


– Aston Villa escaped with a 1-1 draw at West Ham yesterday after the hosts were denied a stoppage-time winner by a prolonged VAR check.

Australian referee Jarred Gillett and VAR official Tony Harrington spent over five minutes debating whether West Ham defender Konstantin­os Mavropanos’ effort hit the arm of Tomas Soucek on its way into the net.

The replays were inconclusi­ve, with a post obscuring the view of a sea of arms and legs on the goalline.

But Mavropanos’ goal was eventually ruled out, one of three chalked off for the Hammers, to spare Villa from a damaging defeat.

Nicolo Zaniolo had equalised for Villa after Michail Antonio headed West Ham into a first-half lead.

Fourth-placed Villa are now three points clear of fifth-placed Tottenham in the race to qualify for next season’s Champions League via a top-four finish.

But it was a frustratin­g afternoon for Unai Emery’s men, who have played a game more than Tottenham and had hoped to take advantage of the north Londoners’ loss at Fulham on Saturday.

The breakthrou­gh came after 29 minutes when Vladimir Coufal swung in a cross and the diving Antonio got in front of Ezri Konsa to nod in his first goal since August.

Kudus had the ball in the net shortly afterwards, but Gillett had already blown for a foul on Martinez by Antonio.

West Ham had another goal disallowed, more contentiou­sly, just after the break when Antonio bundled in a Bowen corner.

Martinez totally missed the ball, but VAR ruled Antonio had touched it with his arm.

An equaliser came in the 79th minute when Tielemans sent Moussa Diaby scampering down the right, Diaby’s cut-back found fellow substitute Zaniolo, who arrived in the box right on cue to prod the ball past Areola. –

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