Manchester City fans have long been hoping for VAR in the Champions League after countless questionable decisions over the years.
Unfortunately for the Blues, the technology not only malfunctioned on Wednesday night in Gelsenkirchen, but led to a questionable penalty that made the match against Schalke much more difficult than it otherwise could have been.
Nicolas Otamendi was judged to have committed a handball in the City box, but replays made it very questionable as to whether it was intentional.
It turned out that the referee was unable to view a certain camera angle he wanted to due to an error in the VAR system, so went ahead and gave the penalty that Nabil Bentaleb tucked away.
Former Premier League referee, Mark Clattenburg, has questioned the decision in his column for the Daily Mail.
Clattenburg wrote: “Had referee Carlos de Cerro Grande been able to take a second look at Nicolas Otamendi’s handball, he may not have awarded Schalke their first spot-kick. It was not a clear and obvious penalty as there is a doubt over whether Otamendi deliberately handled the ball,” Clattenburg wrote in the Sportsmail.
“He was trying to get his arm behind his back and out of the way when the ball struck him. Had he seen a replay, the referee may have stuck to his guns. VAR can still be used even if the monitor has failed — the referee can still communicate via his microphone — but both clubs should have been notified immediately that he would not be able to see a replay.”
The second penalty was less contentious, although there were suspicions of offside in the build-up.
“There was not an issue with Schalke’s second penalty,” wrote Clattenburg. “It was a good spot from the referee. Fernandinho was clearly holding his opponent and while the contact began outside the area, it continued into the box. The City midfielder can have no complaints but Pep Guardiola will be aggrieved with the first one.”
In the end the Otamendi decision was not as costly as it might have been, since City rallied to pull off an incredible late comeback and take a 3-2 lead into the second leg – but the flaws of VAR could be seen, and of course it had to be Manchester City who were the victims of that.