In case you missed it, it is with a heavy heart that I must announce that VAR is at it again. Tottenham Hotspur thought they had not only won Wednesday night’s Champions League match against Sporting thanks to a last-gasp Harry Kane goal in the 94th minute, a result that would’ve clinched their Champions League group and allowed them to fully rotate for their final match at Marseille.
Instead, after five minutes of deliberation VAR waved the goal off because Harry Kane had a toenail in an offside position, depending on when you stopped the camera and where you drew the crayon lines. Antonio Conte also got a red card in the wake of that decision. The match ended up a 1-1 draw, meaning Spurs will need to win or draw at Marseille next week or they bounce out of the Champions League.
And Conte? Oh, he’s BIG MAD. Here are his press conference comments, in toto.
“At the end because all the people come into the pitch and then the referee decided to send me off. Only for this. I think there are moments that maybe you can be a bit intelligent to understand you have just disallowed a regular goal because the goal was regular. The ball is in front of Kane. And then the VAR.
“I repeat you know I don’t comment on referee decision but the VAR, this season, I don’t know why between Premier League and Champions League, we are not so lucky. I don’t know why until now we are also the only team who repeated the penalty and every penalty I go to see, if the keeper move on line, I see a lot of the time. I want to see repetition of a penalty in Premier League. I think we are not so lucky with VAR but I think they create big damage.
“I would like to see if this type of decision you can take with a top team, in an important game, yeah I would like to see if VAR is so brave to take this decision. I repeat this unfair decision because the ball is in front of Kane. Sorry, but I am really upset because sometimes you can accept this situation and sometimes I think it is not good because I don’t see honesty in this type of situation and when I see this I become really, really upset.
“For the game we played first half with low intensity and Sporting deserve to stay 1-0 up and at the end of the game after our second half I think we deserved to get three points. Now for this decision we have to wait to the last game against Marseille and I repeat this decision, yeah creates big damage.
“I hope the club understands this and then in the right situation they also speak with the people they have to speak because otherwise it is only the manager to speak. I think the club has to be strong because I repeat this situation creates big, big damage. Now we don’t know what happen next week. If we go out, then I want to see.”
Now, whether or not Kane was actually offside (debatable!) and whether or not Conte is correct to be this upset about it is a bit beside the point — this is Conte being a good manager. It doesn’t benefit him to be magnanimous about these kinds of decisions. What matters is that he communicates to his team that he’s got their back, and he provides appropriate motivation for Spurs to go out and win their next match.
And boy, do they need to. Spurs are now on a three match run without a win, and they head to a Bournemouth team that has one win in their last six. I want this Spurs team angry. I want them motivated. I want them to remember what happened here, then go out in kick Bournemouth’s collective teeth in.
There have been times during my Spurs fandom when Spurs have had a chip on their shoulder and have turned that motivation into good results. Let’s hope that happens here, starting on Saturday and continuing to Tuesday night in Marseille.