June 20 – Argentina pulled off an unprecedented women’s World Cup fightback from 3-0 down to draw 3-3 with Scotland on Wednesday with a twice-taken stoppage-time penalty courtesy of the video assistant referee system which ultimately broke the Scots’ hearts as they were eliminated in cruellest of circumstances.
The final group D series of fixtures, which the Sscots had to win to reach the knockout phase in their first ever appearance in the tournament, burst into controversy when VAR was first used to award Argentina a debatable penalty three minutes into stoppage time.
Although it was saved by Lee Alexander she was adjudged, under newly introduced regulations, not to have had at least part of one foot on the goal line. Florencia Bonsegundo made no mistake at the second attempt.
“I’m gutted for the players, gutted for the support, but the officiating was really, really poor,” said coach Shelley Kerr.
It was the second time the new rule, which aims at preventing keepers gaining an unfair advantage, has been put to the test at the tournament. France snatched a 1-0 win against Nigeria after VAR ruled that Wendie Renard’s missed spotkick should be retaken after the Nigerian keeper had partially moved off her line.
With VAR now able to penalise even minor goalkeeping infringements, the rule is likely to lead to a heap of problems when it is rolled out across the game from next season.
“I said at the start of the tournament that if VAR helps come to the right decisions I’m in favour of it, but tonight we feel hard done by,” Kerr told reporters. “Some of the decisions were appalling to say the least.”
France’s sports daily newspaper L’Equipe described the decision as “incomprehensible” and Scotland captain Rachel Corsie added: “They’re making the rules really, really strict.”
In the same group, England maintained their 100% record to advance to the last 16 after beating 2015 runners-up Japan 2-0 despite defending for almost the entire second half. England were put under heavy pressure in Nice but two Ellen White goals did the job.
“The style is non-negotiable however far we go,” said England coach Phil Neville. “When you get to last 16 it’s about winning. We place a big emphasis on winning as we like to play in a certain style. In the second half, because we were so open and fatigued, we probably got exposed a little bit.
“But we got another clean sheet, won another game and we’ve played three and won three. We’re where we want to be – in the last 16, ready to attack the business end of the tournament.”
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