Wolves gained a useful point away at Leicester in their first Premier League match of the season in a game where the controversial VAR and Accidental Handball rules in football were brought under the spotlight at their expense.
Leander Dendoncker scored for Wolves six minutes into the second half when a corner from Moutinho was deflected by Willy Boly into his path and he hammered the ball into the net. The Wolves players celebrated, the supporters were ecstatic and Leicester disappointed but not aggrieved. The players returned to the centre circle for the game to be restarted with everyone in the stadium accepting a goal had been scored. Up came the news on the big screen that the goal was being reviewed by VAR, surely a formality. The delay was more than 90 seconds before somewhere in a distant TV studio the decision was taken to disallow the goal because the ball had struck Boly’s arm before falling to Dendoncker. Cue much celebration from the home support.
Is it good for the game that this is what the game now involves? Would the goal have stood last season? Of course. If VAR was something that happened as a consequence of a request by the opposition, then probably Leicester wouldn’t have bothered. What made matters worse for Wolves was that the decision was made that a new rule that makes accidental handball an offence was the reason the goal was struck off. How accidental can be considered an offence is ridiculous.
Later in the evening I watched a game on TV between PSG and Nimes. A PSG corner was cleared and the game continued. Then one minute later the referee was notified that an incident was being reviewed. This showed a Nimes player had used his hand in the clearance and PSG were awarded a penalty from which they scored. The handball was deemed intentional. Had it been accidental no penalty would have been given, that’s the rules in France. I wonder what the rules are in the Europa League?
So the rules vary dependant on where the game is being played, and people in TV studios can change a decision on incidents that everyone watching the game in the stadium is content with. The beautiful game has changed beyond recognition.
As for the game, we saw a first half where Leicester had lots of possession as Brendan Rodgers teams do but Wolves looked the more likely scorers and Dendoncker blasted over with the best opening of the first half. Jota three times broke through the home defence but the shooting boots for once not there for the striker. Leicester limited to long range shots well off target.
Wolves started the second half with real purpose and Jimenez shot weakly at Schmeichel when sent through by Neves. Then after the disallowed goal Jota got through but shot weakly wide. Maybe because of the 6,000 mile Armenia trip Wolves were looking very leggy in the last 20 minutes and Leicester were pushing them back but a shot from Barnes is saved by Patricio.
Patricio 7 – what he did he did well, but he wasn’t busy
Bennett 7 – as reliable as ever in defence
Coady 7 – had a sound game in a good defensive performance by Wolves
Boly 9 – outstanding
Doherty 6 – steady performance where he rarely got forward
Dendoncker 6 – unlucky with the goal but not his best game and he looked very leggy in the second half
Neves 6 – one or two good passes but a few loose ones on the day also
Moutinho 7 – pick of the midfield
Jonny 7 – didn’t have a great first half but very good after the break
Jimenez 6 – another who looked a yard short on the day
Jota 7 – his finishing was off on the day but his positive running caused all sorts of problems before he ran out of gas on the hour
Cutrone replaced Jota and Saiss replaced Neves and both had quiet games
VAR will be the main talking point here but it will be the league point gained that brings the satisfaction. Next game is the second leg against Pyunik at Molineux on Thursday and that’s surely an occasion where many of the first choice team will be given a night off to be ready for the next League game against Man Utd at Molineux on August 19th. No more VAR controversies then please.