Man City, Spurs discover high bar for VAR on penalty calls
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By ROB HARRIS
LONDON (AP) With VAR in its third weekend in the Premier League, Manchester City and Tottenham now know just how high the threshold is for penalty calls to be overturned by video reviews.
City was denied a penalty even when Bournemouth midfielder Jefferson Lerma stood on David Silva's foot. The champions were leading at the time and Sergio Aguero went on to score his second goal in a 3-1 win.
But Tottenham had no such good fortune against Newcastle later on Sunday. Trailing to Joelinton's goal, Tottenham thought it had a late chance to grab an equalizer when Harry Kane tumbled after being impeded in the penalty area by Jamaal Lascelles.
But referee Mike Dean had already let play continue without awarding a spot kick. And when the VAR review finally took place, the original decision was not overruled - indicating a lack of clear evidence the original decision was wrong - and Newcastle won 1-0.
Tottenham lost its first match of the season a week after VAR did help the London club gain a point at the Etihad Stadium when a City handball was spotted in the run-up to what looked like being Gabriel Jesus' winner.
City manager Pep Guardiola is exasperated by how VAR is being applied.
"It was clear hands last game, clear hands. A penalty today? No, please," Guardiola said sarcastically. "The challenge this season will be amazing for us after winning back-to-back two titles, the challenge will be great."
Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino wasn't going to blame the application of the new technology.
"I trust in the VAR," Pochettino said. "I am happy to have VAR and more than happy that they check. But if it's not a penalty you keep going."
There was one penalty awarded on Sunday, enabling Wolverhampton to grab a stoppage time equalizer against Burnley.
Unlike in the City and Tottenham games, referee Craig Pawson had already pointed to the spot when Raul Jimenez was fouled by Erik Pieters. Jimenez netted from the spot to cancel out Ashley Barnes' strike and seal a 1-1 draw for Wolves.
On his 400th City appearance, David Silva was as influential as ever in pulling the strings for his team.
With City already leading through Aguero's strike, Silva slipped in the ball for Sterling to get his fifth goal in three league games.
It came just before Harry Wilson scored directly from a brilliant free kick to reduce the deficit back to a single goal before halftime.
Then, after Silva was denied a penalty after being caught by Lerma, the Spaniard jinked into the penalty area to set up Aguero for City's third.
"He has a sense to move between the lines like nobody else in the world," Guardiola said of Silva. "He is a fighter."
Tottenham looks to Christen Eriksen to unpick teams like Silva does for City. That's when the Dane is starting.
Just like in the opening game against Aston Villa, Eriksen was only deployed in the second half as doubts linger over his future ahead of the transfer window closing on the continent in a week.
"It is so difficult the situation," Pochettino said.
Unlike against Villa, when Eriksen's arrival inspired a comeback, Tottenham couldn't find a way to break through a resolute Newcastle.
Kane barely got a touch in the opposition penalty area and Son Heung-min was lacking sharpness on his first appearance of the season after serving a suspension.
Jan Vertonghen hasn't been injured. But after being dropped from the squad against Villa, the defender has now watched successive games as an unused substitute.
Davison Sanchez fared no better in central defense, allowing Christian Atsu's cross to fly over him as the unmarked Joelinton had the space to control the ball before striking past goalkeeper Hugo Lloris.
Rafa Benitez had to wait until the 11th match of the season to win in the Premier League last year. Steve Bruce has collected three points in his third, after taking charge of his hometown club when Benitez grew frustrated with the limited resources and took a job in China.
Bruce hopes the victory at Tottenham will earn him a bit of respect.
"Whoever was going to replace Rafa was going to have a tough time," Bruce said. "The easier thing to do would have been to say `No' to the challenge.
"But I'm as determined as everyone to take the club forward, and days like today ... I'll remember it a long time."
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Updated August 25, 2019