VAR – and Andrew Dallas – have once again left football fans baffled and bewildered this morning.
It’s not just Celtic supporters who will have been left mystified by a decision which presented Rangers with a stoppage-time penalty-kick at Pittodrie as they trailed 1-0 to Aberdeen.
Time was running out as a corner-kick was sent in from the left and bustling centre-back Connor Goldson was seen theatrically throwing himself to the ground in a clear attempt to win his side a spot-kick.
Referee Nick Walsh witnessed nothing untoward as the ball was cleared, but his VAR assistant, the aforementioned Mr Dallas, had a word in his ear to review the incident on his touchline monitor.
NO PENALTY…Oh Hyeon-gyu clearly has his jersey pulled by Ross County defender Will Nightingale. VAR official Andrew Dallas saw nothing wrong.
PENALTY…Ibrox defender Connor Goldson and Aberdeen’s Stefan Garternmann have a coming together. VAR offical Andrew Dallas recommended referee Nick Walsh reviewed the incident.
The eagle-eyed official sitting in front of the multi-screens in the Glasgow office had spotted an apparent infringement. As Walsh trotted off to have a look at the screens we were all aware of the inevitable outcome.
Yes, that oft-used phrase: “Penalty to Rangers.”
Dallas had detected a tug on Goldson’s shirt by opponent Stefan Gartenmann which was enough to send the Englishman tumbling in a heap as though he had been hit by an invisible truck. It was a dive. Clear and simple. No argument.
Walsh pointed to the spot and Tavernier, with his SEVENTY-THIRD penalty-kick of his Ibrox career, underlined that practice does indeed make perfect and he slammed the award past keeper Kelle Roos.
Philippe Clement’s side are eight points behind the champions today when it could so easily have been nine but for the intervention of an official who once awarded Rangers FOUR penalty-kicks in one game against St Mirren in February 2019.
However, hold on (no pun intended). Is this not the same Andrew Dallas, now a full-time VAR official, who was on duty back on November 4 when Celtic played Ross County in Dingwall?
VAR-CICAL…the controversial incident that saw the Ibrox side awarded a penalty-kick at Pittodrie.
On that occasion, with the game goalless in the 21st minute, there was a very obvious shirt pull by home defender Will Nightingale on Hoops striker Oh Hyeon-gyu.
The cameras caught the incident clearly and it was obviously a lot more blatant foul than anything witnessed at Pittodrie yesterday.
David Munro was the man entrusted with the whistle in the Highlands when David Turnbull swirled in a left-wing corner-kick and Oh was impended as he went to meet the ball. Nightingale grabbed his shirt, but, remarkably, neither of the officials, on and off the pitch, saw anything untoward.
The South Korean, impeded by the County defender, sent a header off target and play was waved on. Dallas, in front of the multi-screens, was satisfied no foul had taken place in the penalty box, as CQN highlighted at the time.
No matter. Brendan Rodgers’ side won 3-0 with goals from Turnbull, Luis Palma and James Forrest. It may also be worth noting that the visitors had TWO first-half efforts ruled out that day with Dallas bringing his A-game to proceedings.
The first came early in the contest when Oh tangled with opposition striker Jordan White in an aerial joust. The ball dropped to Liam Scales who swiftly whipped a low drive into the net, but the joy was cut short when Munro chalked it off and Dallas agreed the Celt had illegally used his right arm for leverage while challenging for the high ball.
VAR-CICAL…the distance between Daizen Maeda and a County defender that was spotted by Andrew Dallas.
On the half-hour mark, Daizen Maeda raced down the right wing before lashing over a low cross which was met by Oh from close range to divert an effort past Ross Laidlaw.
There was a moment’s hesitation from the frontman and his team-mates before they celebrated what looked like a perfectly legitimate opening goal against Malky Mackay’s side.
And then Dallas intervened after spotting something in the lead-up and new technology got to work. An image appeared to show there was the width of an extremely thin piece of paper between the Japanese raider and a County defender.
No goal, decreed the assistant. Was Maeda offside? VAR said he was, others were not so sure even after the lines had been drawn on the image of the incident.
That piece of astounding detection proved there was absolutely nothing wrong with the eyesight of Dallas who curiously had missed the shirt-pull on Oh by a County defender just nine minutes earlier.
Belgian Clement has yet to lose after replacing the hapless Michael Beale two months ago. He came mightily close to that proud boast hitting the buffers in the north east – much like the recent match against Hearts at Ibrox.
VAR-CICAL…another review, another penalty-kick for the Ibrox club against Hearts.
Losing 1-0 to the Tynecastle outfit, Goldson – yes, that man again who continually falls down on the job – embraced the turf after a nosedive following an incident with Peter Haring. Only a minute remained of regulation time when the home team’s defender crashed after a right-wing corner-kick had dropped into the crowded box
Referee John Beaton saw nothing and waved play on, but Alan Muir, operating VAR that afternoon, spotted a so-called infringement and directed the onfield official to review the coming-together.
A quick glance was sufficient for the whistler to return to the field and award Tavernier his second penalty-kick of the encounter. He had squandered the first-half attempt by clattering the ball off the post.
He equalised from the spot and the home team claimed a winner in the nine minutes of stoppage-time.
Is there any chance anyone in power might actually get around to explaining the contrasting decisions at Dingwall and Pittodrie that clearly don’t match up and yet were both scrutinised by the same official?
Don’t hold your breath, folks.