The Video Assistant Referee system is again the subject of widespread scrutiny this evening, after Liverpool’s defeat in Naples.
Napoli vs Liverpool
Jurgen Klopp’s men got their Champions League campaign underway a short time ago, with a trip to Serie A giants Napoli.
The Reds no doubt headed into proceedings brimming with confidence, having extended their lead atop the Premier League table over the weekend.
Before champions Manchester City fell to a shock 3-2 defeat at the hands of Norwich on Saturday evening, Liverpool secured 3 points once more, at home to Newcastle.
A 3-1 win, courtesy of Sadio Mane (2) and Mohamed Salah, saw the Merseysiders make it 5 wins from 5 to start out the new league season.
Bobby’s flick 😱
Mo’s finish 🤩
Just, WOW! 🙌 pic.twitter.com/dHlVZW5VQi
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) September 14, 2019
Napoli, meanwhile, picked up a victory of their own on Saturday, putting Sampdoria to the sword by 2 goals to nil.
Mertens and Llorente on target
As such, on the back of a tightly-contested pair of meetings between the sides in the Champions League’s group stage last season, a hard-fought affair was once again predicted tonight.
And the subsequent 90 minutes at the Stadio San Paolo didn’t disappoint.
Though both Napoli and Liverpool largely struggled to carve out clear-cut chances for the majority of the clash, a fascinating encounter eventually saw the former emerge with a 2-0 win.
The game’s opener came with 10 minutes to go, courtesy of Dries Mertens.
The diminutive Belgian stepped up to slot beyond Adrian from the penalty spot, before substitute Fernando Llorente capitalised on a rare Virgil van Dijk error in injury-time to make sure of all 3 points for the hosts.
Though Napoli’s victory eventually came by means of a 2-goal margin, the Partenopei’s go-ahead strike was surrounded by controversy.
After Jose Callejon cut inside Andy Robertson in the Liverpool box, the Spaniard went to ground under a challenge from the Scot, with initial viewing having suggested a blatant penalty.
Replays, however, proved less clear-cut.
While some stand by the claim that the correct call was indeed made in awarding a spot-kick, others are absolutely adamant that it was in fact Callejon who initiated the contact, before diving.
As such, upon VAR checking the incident, the latter group insist that a ‘clear and obvious error’ was indeed made by referee Felix Brych, which should have resulted in the decision being overturned, and Liverpool being handed the chance to come away with at least a share of the spoils:
The clear and obvious error was that it was a total dive. How much more of an error do you need? Should have been a yellow card and free-kick to LFC. But we’ll do these at Anfield again.
— Paul Tomkins (@paul_tomkins) September 17, 2019
What’s the actual point in VAR if it’s not being used correctly? Complete waste of time.
— Anfield Watch (@AnfieldWatch) September 17, 2019