Antonio Conte: VAR made ‘big mistake’ over Alvaro Morata dive call

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Antonio Conte said that the video assistant referee Mike Jones made “big, big mistake” after opting not to flag up a potential penalty and instead sent off Alvaro Morata in Chelsea’s third round replay victory over Norwich City.

The hosts, who won on penalties, were down to nine men following the dismissals of Pedro and Morata who were both shown one of their two yellow cards for diving.

Conte, who watched a replay of that challenge and was insistent it should have resulted in a penalty, saying that the VAR apparently decided no clear and obvious error had occurred.

“If we want to use a new system, I can’t accept a big mistake,” Conte said. “In this case, the Willian penalty was a big, big mistake. Not from the referee on the pitch, who took quickly a decision to book Willian and didn’t have any doubt, but from the person watching the game [Jones]. I hope the VAR wasn’t a referee because if you see that watching on television and don’t think that’s a penalty … he has to improve. It was very clear.”

“At least to avoid a big mistake, [the VAR has] to call the referee and tell him: ‘Look, maybe this situation there is a doubt. For me it’s no penalty, but it’s better you go and watch it, and then take the final decision.’ We need to improve if we want to use this new system. We have to wait to check with the person who is watching the game and then, if this person is sure 100% that it is simulation, go and book Willian.”

“About Pedro, if there is a dive it’s right to take a yellow card. It’s the same for Morata. I don’t want an advantage, especially if you know this system is being used. You can watch every situation with this situation. If someone gives a punch or an elbow, you must pay great attention. In this case, if it wasn’t a penalty, it was right to give a yellow card.”

“For sure, I’m not happy for the second yellow card for Morata. The first yellow card was for a doubtful situation — I didn’t watch Morata’s situation yet — but the second was for dissent. You must pay great attention. In this moment of the game you have to pay great attention to stay calm and make the best decision.”

Dortmund director says Arsene Wenger ‘lack respect’ over Aubameyang

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Borussia Dortmund sporting director Michael Zorc has claimed that Arsene Wenger “lack respect” after the Arsenal manager spoke admiringly about Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.

The Gabon International has been linked with a move to Arsenal in recent weeks, and has seemingly been at odds with the club as he missed another game in Dortmund’s goalless draw against Wolfsburg after failing to attend a team meeting.

Wenger, when asked about the Gabon international’s character, said: “Yes, a character can be very positive or very negative. Overall you look at achievement over career and if he has done well the character has been used in a positive way.”

However, Zorc appeared unimpressed by the Frenchman’s comments and immediately responded: “We think it is a lack of respect when you get involved with players who are playing for another team.”

“There is no contact with Arsenal. We can only assume that Arsene Wenger has enough to think about when it comes to the performances of his own players.”

Aubameyang, who has been suspended by Dortmund three times in little more than a year, has also been left out of Friday’s game against Hertha Berlin with Zorg suggesting that the striker is not in the right frame of mind.

“He’s in Dortmund training,” Zorg added. “We feel that he’s not 100 per cent with it mentally at the moment. So it became a question of whether or not he could help us in Berlin. It’s a difficult situation.”

Hertha would be relieved to see the forward miss the game as they battle to stay in sight of the European spots; with the Berliners 11th on 24 points, victory over Dortmund could move them into the top seven.

“I would not mind if he transferred before the game,” joked Hertha’s Salomon Kalou. “That would be better for us. He is an outstanding striker so it would be really hard to play against him.”

Neymar booed after denying Cavani penalty and club record

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Neymar was jeered by Paris St-Germain fans after he denied Edinson Cavani the chance to become the club’s all-time top scorer during the Ligue 1 side’s 8-0 rout of mid-table Dijon.

Cavani’s first-half strike saw him draw level with Zlatan Ibrahimovic with 156 goals in all competitions for PSG, and the hosts were leading strongly by 4-0 at half-time.

However, although Neymar had already completed a hat-trick before PSG were awarded a penalty, the Brazilian decided to take the spot-kick instead of allowing Cavani to take it, resulting in seemingly humorous jeers and chants for Cavani from the home crowd.

After the game, Neymar, shaking his head, palmed off his man of the match award to a PSG staff member as he walked hurriedly back to the dressing room at Parc des Princes, having not stopped for waiting television reporters.

This also follows an incident earlier this season in which the pair had argued over a penalty, with Cavani refusing to let Neymar take it and then missing, although coach Unai Emery defended Neymar after the match this time.

“I think Neymar took the penalty because it was also a good day for him,” Emery said. “We’re happy with it. But there will be lots more chances for Cavani to score more goals.”

On the other hand, PSG defender Thomas Meunier described it as “a bit of a shame and a bit ungrateful” but acknowledged that Neymar was his side’s penalty taker.

“He could have given him the ball, it would have been a nice gesture of fair play,” he said. “He did so much for the team today and the fact that the fans are whistling at him, well he didn’t take it very well. I think most players would have had the same reaction.”

PSG lead the table by 11 points from nearest rivals Lyon after 21 games — who they play on Sunday after having won their past eight league and cup games, scoring 31 goals and conceding just six.

Leicester City eases past Fleetwood town thanks to VAR-awarded goal

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Leicester City striker Kelechi Iheanacho became the first player to score a goal awarded by a video assistant referee (VAR) in English football as the Foxes beat Fleetwood in an FA Cup third-round replay by 2-0.

After the Nigerian striker opened the scoring with a routine strike from Islam Slimani’s pass, Iheanacho subsequently had a goal initially disallowed for offside from Riyad Mahrez’s through ball.

However, after referee Jonathan Moss liaised with the video official Mike Jones — who told him Nathan Pond’s trailing foot was keeping Iheanacho onside — the goal was finally awarded 67 seconds after it hit the back of the net.

This is the third time the VAR has been used as a trial in English football, all this month, after Brighton v Crystal Palace in the FA Cup and Chelsea v Arsenal in the League Cup; however, while the video referee was consulted in those games, they never used to reverse a decision.

Moss had already briefly spoken to the video official when Iheanacho had an earlier goal ruled out because the ball had crossed the byeline before Demarai Gray crossed it.

There were also a number of discussion regarding in-game incidents between both Moss and Jones such as when Leicester’s Vicente Iborra was pulled back in the box — which they decided not to award a penalty for — before Moss initially disallowed a second goal by the Nigerian for offside.

For the latter, Jones decided — correctly — that Pond was actually keeping him on-side, a decision that was easily missed in real time by the officials.

Moss has the option to watch the case again on a screen on the side of the pitch, had he wanted to — but in this case, he utilized the freedom to trust the video official.