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Tottenham 1-1 Sporting: Controversial VAR call cancels out last-gasp Kane winner

VAR is very, very bad.

Tottenham Hotspur v Sporting CP: Group D - UEFA Champions League Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images

Well. Lots to talk about after this one. Tottenham Hotspur hosted Sporting, Eric Dier’s old club and Marcus Edward’s current one, knowing that with a win they could win their Champions League group and clinch progression to the knock-out stages.

They couldn’t do it. Edwards, a Tottenham academy graduate, scored a lovely low effort midway through the first half. Tottenham threw everything at Sporting late and earned an equalizer from Rodrigo Bentancur off of a corner kick. Spurs thought they had won the match after Harry Kane poked home a close range effort off of a ball from Emerson Royal, but the semi-automated VAR system inexplicably called the goal back for offside and the points were shared.

Spurs had a HORRIBLE first half, a frenetic (but much better) second half, and a game winner thrown out by VAR. Whoof. Here are my match reactions.


  • A surprise start for both Cuti Romero and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg.
  • Sporting’s Porro got past Romero a number of times in this match. Is Cuti quiet-quitting ahead of the World Cup? (Porro looks fun and Spurs should look at signing him.)
  • I mean, it was always going to be Marcus Edwards, wasn’t it? He took his goal well past the hands of a diving Lloris, and he celebrated. As he should have — Spurs were the ones who gave up and f—ked him off to Portugal in the first place. For what it’s worth, Hugo looked to be thrown off by the offside attacker, but it’s still a well-taken goal.
  • The biggest takeaway from this match was that without Dejan Kulusevski, Tottenham have precious few ideas about how to create and execute competent offense. With a few plays from Son and Lucas excepted, again the football was plodding, stodgy, and boring. First half xG was 0.23 - 0.09.
  • At least the waved-off intentional handball goal by Sporting was hilarious. Darkly so since Spurs still gave up a big chance, but still hilarious.
  • Give Spurs credit for coming out and starting the second half with a little more urgency. They finally got a few shots (including a cracker from Eric Dier) and started winning second balls.
  • The second half was pure chaos energy, and much of it came from Bryan Gil. That meant that Spurs really had no shape for the last 20 minutes of the match, but he was super fun to watch in and around Spurs’ box.
  • You know that fan-driven thing where we talk about how opposition keepers always stand on their heads when they play Tottenham? Well, Adar stood on his head tonight. Incredible performance. What can you say?
  • Feels appropriate that the typing goal came from a corner kick set piece, as that’s where a lot of Tottenham’s goals lately have come from. Bentancur got some massive hops to head that ball in.
  • Kane’s disallowed goal was absolute bull. It’s an unconscionable decision to call that back with the deflection and the red card for Conte makes it even worse as far as I’m concerned. It certainly didn’t meet the threshold to overturn the call on the field, and even the still shots aren’t convincing enough to call Emerson offside. The CBS commentary team couldn’t really describe it either. I don’t get it, and I’m FURIOUS.
  • Well, you can’t say that Spurs didn’t have chances to win the match. They had plenty. Some were wasted, some were saved, some were squandered. They actually DID win the match, but they could’ve put it away multiple times and didn’t. Despite the second half, this is just not a very good football team right now.
  • The draw still leaves Spurs with a good chance to advance to the next round. They’re top of the group. Any result in Marseille and they go through and they win the group with a win. If they lose, they’re out. It’s just frustrating that they couldn’t do it tonight.