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Wilder stunned as Sheffield United count cost of 'biggest VAR decision in the history of the Premier League'

5 months ago
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Sheffield United had to settle for a draw at Aston Villa on the Premier League's return after VAR failed to spot the ball crossing the line.

Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder felt it was unacceptable for goal-line technology to fail after a faulty decision cost his team a Premier League victory.

The Hawk-Eye system did not detect Aston Villa goalkeeper Orjan Nyland carrying Oliver Norwood's first-half free-kick over the line during Wednesday's match.

As a result, no signal was sent to referee Michael Oliver's watch and, to further compound matters, there was no intervention from the video assistant referee (VAR).

It finished goalless at Villa Park in the first Premier League game for three months after the coronavirus-enforced suspension of football in England.

Three points for the visitors would have moved them above Manchester United into fifth place.

Wilder suggested it might have been the VAR system's biggest mishap yet, joking that Nyland was eight rows back in the Holte End stand when he grabbed the ball.

"I said it before that I wouldn't be surprised if we're one of the first teams to suffer from a VAR decision – and we've possibly suffered from the biggest VAR decision in the history of the Premier League," Wilder said.

Hawk-Eye apologised "unreservedly" to the Premier League and Sheffield United for the error, saying all seven of its cameras around the goal were obstructed by players and a goalpost.

But the failure of VAR to intervene was particularly galling for Wilder, who said: "Why are we not having somebody at Stockley Park looking at that?

"Holding and pausing and getting the right decision. For seven cameras to not work, that's incredible."

Wilder quipped that "somebody at Stockley Park might have gone for a cup of tea", adding: "I think he was about eight rows in when he caught it and dragged it in."

The Blades manager will "take it on the chin" but said that both sets of players and coaching staff, and the scattering of people allowed into Villa Park, "had the feeling that that was a goal".

Norwood, whose delivery into the box was intended as a cross, added on SUTV: "When you look at back at it, you think, 'What's VAR for?', because surely they can say that's a goal if Hawk-Eye isn't working.

"It's like somebody's scared to make a decision either way. It's frustrating, but what can you do?”

Hawk-Eye said in its statement: "The match officials did not receive a signal to the watch nor earpiece as per the goal decision system (GDS) protocol.

"The seven cameras located in the stands around the goal area were significantly occluded by the goalkeeper, defender and goalpost.

"This level of occlusion has never been seen before in over 9,000 matches that the Hawk-Eye goal-line technology system has been in operation."

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