VAR Once Again Under Scrutiny as Tottenham Defeat Brentford in Semi-Final


Tottenham Hotspur have reached the final of the Carabao Cup after defeating Brentford 2-0 in North London.

It was a fairly straightforward first half for Jose Mourinho’s men, who went into the break leading without coming under much threat.

The deadlock was broken by an unlikely source. Sergio Reguilon whipped in a beauty of a cross for Moussa Sissoko, who headed home unmarked from eight yards out in the 12th minute.

VAR Once Again Under Scrutiny as Tottenham Defeat Brentford in Semi-Final
Sissoko celebrates his first goal in over a year

Spurs almost went two up shortly before half-time, when Bees striker Ivan Toney almost turned the ball into his own net from Heung-min Son’s corner, only for goalkeeper David Raya to pull off a fine save.

The second half was far more eventful. Spurs twice came close to doubling their lead, first when Serge Aurier fired over from close range, and then when Heung-min Son volleyed narrowly wide from Sissoko’s cross.

The big talking point in the game came after 60 minutes, when Toney thought he had levelled after heading in from close range. However, VAR stepped in, disallowing the goal because the striker was offside by his kneecap. This was the first VAR decision of the entire tournament, having not been used until this round.

Not long afterwards, Tottenham put the game to bed. Harry Kane fed Tanguy Ndombele, whose perfectly weighted through ball Son, who raced through on goal and finished emphatically.

VAR Once Again Under Scrutiny as Tottenham Defeat Brentford in Semi-Final
Son finishes brilliantly to seal Spurs’ place in the final

Kane and Ndombele both came close to adding a third for the Lilywhites. The former saw his shot saved by the foot of Raya, while the latter hit the post from a tight angle.

Brentford’s disappointment was compounded by another VAR decision, this time to send off midfielder Josh Dasilva for a nasty challenge on Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg. The Dane had to be substituted, and was pictured with blood streaming from his shin after the tackle.

Tottenham will play either Manchester United or Manchester City in the final at Wembley on April 25th.

Tottenham Under Mourinho – Unconvincing, But Effective

VAR Once Again Under Scrutiny as Tottenham Defeat Brentford in Semi-Final
It may not have been glamorous, but it got Spurs through to the final

Once again, there were question marks over Spurs’ performance. The clubs’ biggest stars were out on the pitch, and yet they failed to dominate the game. While they were solid defensively, creating clear cut chances didn’t come easily to them until after their second goal. Against a Championship side, one may wonder whether they could take a few more risks.

After all, this approach has backfired several times in recent weeks. Tottenham led against Crystal Palace and Wolverhampton Wanderers for long periods of the game, but failed to get the second goal, and were ultimately punished for it. And, if not for VAR, it could have gone wrong again in this fixture.

The free-flowing football of the Mauricio Pochettino era is long gone, and the fans may have to get used to Jose Mourinho’s more pragmatic style.

But, at the end of the day, they still got the result. Sure, it may not have been as pretty as they’d have liked, but they’re in the final. And, if they win the final in the same manner, will the fans be complaining? Probably not. When it comes to knockout competitions, the result matters more than anything else.

VAR – the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

VAR Once Again Under Scrutiny as Tottenham Defeat Brentford in Semi-Final
VAR denied Brentford an equaliser

Well, we’re talking about VAR again. Fun.

Two major VAR incidents in this game. The first showed the unpopular side of the technology – the joyless, soulless part that rips the drama away from the spectacle. The pedantic machine that denies a potential turning point over mere centimetres.

Yes, Toney’s kneecap was ahead of Sissoko’s heel. Yes, by the letter of the law, it’s offside. But was Toney really gaining an advantage? Should a bit more common sense be brought in when it comes to cases like this?

The second incident portrayed VAR at its best. It was a clear and obvious error, it didn’t take too long, and the correct decision was made. Why can’t it be like this all the time?

VAR Once Again Under Scrutiny as Tottenham Defeat Brentford in Semi-Final
Referee Mike Dean takes a quick look at the monitor before sending off Dasilva

One question still remains: why was VAR only introduced in the semi-finals? What about the previous stages? Were they not important enough?

Surely, if you’re going to use VAR in a competition, it should either be used all the time, or never. Everton fans will still be seething over their quarter-final tie, when Edinson Cavani escaped a red card after grabbing Yerry Mina by the throat, and then went on to score the winning goal. The Toffees were left wondering whether they’d still be in the competition had VAR been present.

Whatever you think of VAR, it’s always at the centre of attention.

Social Media Reaction

Moussa Sissoko gives Tottenham the lead:

Ivan Toney has a goal ruled out for offside:

Heung-min Son makes it 2-0 and seals Spurs’ place at Wembley:

Josh Dasilva gets sent off for a tackle on Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg:

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