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Nuno Espirito Santo criticizes VAR decision in Forest defeat

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By Martin Graham | 11th Feb 2024

Nuno Espirito Santo, the manager of Nottingham Forest, expressed his dismay over a contentious decision during their recent 3-2 defeat against Newcastle in the Premier League. The pivotal moment came when Forest’s forward, Taiwo Awoniyi, was involved in a collision with Newcastle’s goalkeeper, Martin Dubravka, inside the penalty box with the score tied at 2-2. Despite claims for a penalty, referee Anthony Taylor waved play on, and even after a VAR review, the decision remained unchanged.

Santo voiced his frustration, emphasizing the significance of the incident at the City Ground. He argued that while the referee’s view might have been obstructed, VAR should have intervened to correct the error. Santo reiterated his belief that the collision warranted a penalty and questioned the effectiveness of the decision-making process.

Former Liverpool midfielder Jamie Redknapp echoed Santo’s sentiments, suggesting that Newcastle “escaped” with the decision. Redknapp implied that the outcome of the game might have been different had the penalty been awarded in favor of Forest.

Dissecting the Controversy

Former Tottenham defender Stephen Kelly offered his analysis of the incident, pointing out the unnecessary nature of Dubravka’s actions. According to Kelly, Dubravka’s movement, particularly his arm lift to impede Awoniyi’s progress, was unwarranted and led to the collision. This analysis aligns with Santo’s assertion that Forest should have been awarded a penalty.

VAR’s Ongoing Impact and Evaluation

The incident has once again raised questions about the effectiveness of VAR in the Premier League. Premier League’s chief football officer, Tony Scholes, acknowledged that while VAR has increased the number of correct decisions, there are still flaws in the system. Scholes admitted concerns about the time taken for VAR decisions and its impact on the overall match experience for fans. Despite these challenges, Scholes maintained that VAR remains a valuable asset to the league, albeit one that requires ongoing refinement.

Martin Graham is an MFF sports writer

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