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VAR’s biggest buzzkill moments: England denied in two semi-finals, epic Champions League ties decided by tiny margins and Arsenal’s title hopes dealt big blow… as Coventry are denied one of FA Cup’s great miracles

For Manchester United fans, it was the biggest of let-offs. For everybody else, it was yet more evidence VAR is sucking the joy out of football.

Coventry City denied one of the greatest moments in FA Cup history – and one of the most miraculous comebacks of all-time – by mere inches.

In the days before technology, Victor Torp’s winner in the dying seconds of extra time would have been heralded as yet more magic from the world’s greatest cup competition.

It could well have also sealed Erik ten Hag’s fate as United boss.

But the ruthless accuracy of VAR and its offside lines stopped wild Coventry celebrations in their tracks and ultimately allowed United passage to the final.

Victor Torp thought he had scored the winner for Coventry against United in the 121st minute

Torp and Coventry celebrated wildly, thinking they'd booked their place in the FA Cup final

Torp and Coventry celebrated wildly, thinking they’d booked their place in the FA Cup final

VAR replays showed Haji Wright had strayed offside by mere millimetres before he set Torp up

VAR replays showed Haji Wright had strayed offside by mere millimetres before he set Torp up 

With Coventry the clear underdogs, and certainly at 3-0 down, it was another moment where VAR proved a killjoy for the wider football-watching public.

Whoever you support, there have been moments when VAR really has spoilt the game we all love.

All-English Champions League classic decided by VAR

Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur served up one of the great Champions League contests in the 2019 quarter-finals – but ultimately VAR decided the outcome.

First, there was what proved to be the winning goal bundled home by Fernando Llorente from a corner. After an agonisingly long VAR check, it stood because the Spurs man scored with his hip and not his arm.

Then, in the third minute of stoppage time, City’s Raheem Sterling scored what would have been the winner, sparking euphoric Etihad celebrations with Pep Guardiola performing a touchline dash.

But that ecstasy turned to agony when officials spotted Sergio Aguero was just offside when Bernardo Silva diverted the ball into his path to tee up Sterling.

It left City feeling numb and Spurs thankful for the officials and their replays.

Fernando Llorente was adjudged to have scored this crucial goal with his hip - not his arm - following a long VAR review in the 2019 Man City vs Spurs Champions League quarter-final

Fernando Llorente was adjudged to have scored this crucial goal with his hip – not his arm – following a long VAR review in the 2019 Man City vs Spurs Champions League quarter-final

Raheem Sterling then thought he'd scored a dramatic late winner for Manchester City

Raheem Sterling then thought he’d scored a dramatic late winner for Manchester City

But City celebrations were but short when VAR decided Sergio Aguero was offside in the build-up to Sterling's stoppage time winner

But City celebrations were but short when VAR decided Sergio Aguero was offside in the build-up to Sterling’s stoppage time winner

White’s toenail offside in World Cup semi-final

The Lionesses came agonisingly close to reaching their first Women’s World Cup final in 2019 when they pushed much-fancied USA to the brink.

Ellen White had already scored one equaliser and thought she’d made it 2-2 in the second-half.

But a VAR inspection found White to be marginally offside as she ran onto Jill Scott’s through ball.

Even a year later, White admitted she was still haunted by the decision. ‘I do sit at home at night and say: ‘Ahhh, I just can’t stand VAR’,’ she said.

It also denied White the tournament Golden Boot award, which went to the USA’s Megan Rapinoe.

In fairness, that VAR misfortune was cancelled out when it awarded England a penalty for a foul on White late on, only for Steph Houghton to fluff her lines.

An agonising case of what might have been for England.  

England's Ellen White was denied an equaliser in the 2019 Women's World Cup semi-final

England’s Ellen White was denied an equaliser in the 2019 Women’s World Cup semi-final

The Lionesses striker celebrated the goal in customary fashion before it was chalked off

The Lionesses striker celebrated the goal in customary fashion before it was chalked off

Lingard’s late winner counts for nothing

England’s men also suffered semi-final VAR agony in 2019. Fair enough, the UEFA Nations League is no World Cup but it denied them passage to a tournament final nonetheless.

Their game with the Netherlands in Guimaraes, Portugal was on a knife-edge at 1-1 when Jesse Lingard fired England into a pretty unmerited lead late on.

It sparked wild celebrations among thousands of English fans inside the stadium – only for VAR to intervene and rule it out after a two-minute check.

Gareth Southgate’s side never recovered from the blow with a defensive horror show in extra time consigning them to a 3-1 loss.

Lingard’s career has seemingly gone downhill ever since.

Jesse Lingard thought he'd sent England into the Nations League final in 2019

Jesse Lingard thought he’d sent England into the Nations League final in 2019

Lingard celebrated wildly - as did the England fans - but the joy was very short-lived

Lingard celebrated wildly – as did the England fans – but the joy was very short-lived 

VAR replays showed Lingard was offside and the Netherlands went on to win 3-1 in extra time

VAR replays showed Lingard was offside and the Netherlands went on to win 3-1 in extra time

Wolves incensed after being denied Anfield winner

A Saturday night TV audience enjoyed an entertaining FA Cup third round tie as Liverpool and Wolves shared four goals at Anfield – but VAR had the final word.

The visitors thought they’d won the game when Toti flicked home but the assistant referee raised his flag against Matheus Nunes, who took the original corner and then saw the ball returned to him before crossing.

It stopped the celebrations of thousands of Wolves fans behind the goal and further controversy followed because VAR had no available camera angle to provide enough evidence to overturn the decision.

Wolves boss Julen Lopetegui was furious, saying: ‘We have seen it, the offside doesn’t exist, I’m sorry, it’s impossible.’

Even Jurgen Klopp had sympathy: ‘We have one picture where it may look offside, but I can understand why they are angry about it. We don’t want the VAR to just have one angle.’

To compound matters for Wolves, Liverpool won the Molineux replay 1-0.

Toti Gomes celebrates what he thought was a dramatic late FA Cup winner for Wolves

Toti Gomes celebrates what he thought was a dramatic late FA Cup winner for Wolves 

Matheus Nunes (bottom left) was flagged offside when the ball came back out to him following a corner

Matheus Nunes (bottom left) was flagged offside when the ball came back out to him following a corner

Wolves boss Julen Lopetegui was left furious by the decision, calling the offside 'impossible'

Wolves boss Julen Lopetegui was left furious by the decision, calling the offside ‘impossible’ 

VAR error stalls Arsenal title push

February last year and Arsenal are looking a very good bet to finally win the Premier League again.

They’ve lost just twice and are ahead of Manchester City and other fancied side when they host Brentford at the Emirates.

Leandro Trossard puts them ahead and the Gunners are set to move eight points clear at the top.

But then Ivan Toney equalises with a header from close range, a costly goal for Arsenal that stands despite two VAR mistakes.

They decided Ethan Pinnock had not blocked Gabriel when in an offside position as Mathias Jensen’s free-kick was delivered.

The VAR officials then fail to spot that Christian Norgaard is offside when crossing for Toney to score, with the lines not even drawn to check.

Ivan Toney scored an equaliser for Brentford at Arsenal last season despite VAR controversy

Ivan Toney scored an equaliser for Brentford at Arsenal last season despite VAR controversy

The goal, costly for Arsenal's title chances, was allowed to stand after a mistake by officials

The goal, costly for Arsenal’s title chances, was allowed to stand after a mistake by officials

Christian Norgaard was offside later in the move before Toney scored against the Gunners

Christian Norgaard was offside later in the move before Toney scored against the Gunners

‘I just looked back and it is offside,’ a frustrated Mikel Arteta said post-match. ‘We’ll probably be given an explanation later in the week.’

Indeed they were, with referees body PGMOL acknowledging afterwards an error was made.

It wasn’t the only reason why Arsenal ultimately didn’t win the league but it hardly helped.

Diaz victim of the worst VAR gaffe yet

The goal Liverpool’s Luis Diaz saw wrongly disallowed at Tottenham earlier this season saw the fiercest criticism of VAR yet in the English game.

The Colombian winger was played through on goal and scored, only to be flagged offside with the decision going to VAR to double check.

VAR official Darren England and assistant Dan Cook failed to realise the goal had been ruled out and failed to overturn the decision as play continued.

Liverpool might have been 1-0 up but they went on to lose 2-1, with Klopp calling for a replay.

The gaffe was made even worse when the audio recording was released, laying bare the shocking communication between officials.

Football fans everywhere, whether they like Liverpool or not, started to seriously question whether VAR is truly necessary in the game they love.

Luis Diaz thought he'd scored for Liverpool against Tottenham only to be flagged offside

Luis Diaz thought he’d scored for Liverpool against Tottenham only to be flagged offside

VAR replays showed Diaz clearly onside but there was confusion over the on-field decision

VAR replays showed Diaz clearly onside but there was confusion over the on-field decision 

That led to the goal being wrongly disallowed for offside and a major VAR fall-out

That led to the goal being wrongly disallowed for offside and a major VAR fall-out 

P.S. WHAT ABOUT THIS ONE? 

Panama where left devastated when this spectacular goal – and brilliant celebration – were rendered academic by a VAR call in their CONCACAF Nations League game with Mexico last year. 

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