Espérance Edge Guadalajara After Dramatic Evening of VAR

Satish Sekar
By Satish Sekar December 20, 2018 10:55

Espérance Edge Guadalajara After Dramatic Evening of VAR

By Satish Sekar in the Hazza Bin Zayed Stadium, Al-Ain © Satish Sekar (December 18th 2018)


Reduced to nine men Espérance Sportive de Tunis beat CD Guadalajara 6-5 in the penalty shoot-out to claim 5th place in the World Club Championship in the first of a double-header today. Hedgardo Marín Arroyo was the first to miss for Guadalajara. Earlier Algerian international, Youcef Belaïli, who had scored hi effort in normal time, saw his tame penalty easily saved by Miguel Jiménez Rodríguez. Jiménez had replaced starting keeper Raúl Gudiño Vega for the penalty shoot-out.

Josécarlos van Rankin Galland’s penalty down the centre was saved by Rami Jeridi, and Saad Bguir saw his effort saved by Jiménez. Everyone else scored until the referee intervened.

Matthew Conger stopped Isaác Brizuela Muñoz from taking his penalty when he stepped up – eventually allowing him to take it. Brizuela consequently struck it well over the bar.

Both Brizuela and Guadalajara had cause for complaint, but Chamseddine Dhaouadi stepped up and made no mistake, beating Jiménez to the keeper’s right.

This wasn’t the only ‘error’ the referee made in the match.

VAR Takes Centre Stage

A shaky performance by the officials, led by New Zealand’s Conger, had an impact on proceedings. The referee missed a clear, and possibly game-changing decision in the first minute. VAR had to put it right.

Samah Derbali left Ángel Zaldivar Caviedes in a heap after catching him on the shin in the penalty area – a clear penalty. Play continued and Walter Sandoval Contreras had a tame shot from a tight angle on the left, which Jeridi easily saved. There was no advantage and play had to be hauled back for review.

After consulting VAR, Conger gave the penalty. It was converted 4 minutes later by Sandoval. Derbali ought to have received a yellow card at least, probably red as the tackle was dangerous and reckless, which would have changed the context of the match.

Conger had missed the clear foul by Derbali on Zaldivar. After seeing the VAR Conger gave the penalty, but took no action against the perpetrator of the foul – double punishment or not, Derbali’s challenge was dangerous. It was hardly an auspicious start – this tournament had blazed the trail, being the first to trial VAR two years ago.

Almost half an hour later Conger missed another. After a string of corners, the tables were turned in the 33rd minute. Cameroonian international striker Franck Kom’s volley hit van Rankin’s outstretched hand. After a five-minute penalty review Conger gave the VAR signal, pointed to the spot for the second time and yellow-carded van Rankin. Belaïli sent Gudiño the wrong way, scoring to the keeper’s left. He celebrated by clutching the team’s badge on his shirt and covering his left eye. Almost 15 earlier Kom had a similar appeal for a penalty turned down.

Further Incidents

There should be a review of an incident after 70 minutes, as Gudiño gathered the ball. As he was going to clear, he felt contact on his back by Ivorian midfielder Fousseny Coulibaly. He clutched his face and went down – an outrageous play-acting designed to get a fellow professional sent off. Instead of that Conger gave Coulibaly a talking to and told Gudiño to get on with it.

Coulibaly protested his innocence – rightly – and neither Conger nor second assistant referee Mark Rule took any action against Gudiño. This should be reviewed later if VAR cannot be used – play had stopped. It was ungentlemanly conduct – plain cheating.

Four minutes later Rule drew Conger’s attention to an off-the ball clash between Anice Badri and Brizuela near the half-way line. After the confrontation, which was much ado about nothing, Conger issued yellow card to both players – Badri’s second, so Espérance were reduced to ten men.

Meanwhile, excellent goalkeeping by Jeridi kept the scores level, conceding a corner to deny Zaldivar’s long range effort. Shortly afterwards he produced a magnificent double save to deny Michael Pérez Ortiz with a firm right-handed save, and recover to save Miguel Ponce Briseño’s rebound from the left. He needn’t have worried as Ponce was flagged offside.

In the last minute of the 5 added at the end of the half Brizuela was the victim of a dreadful two-footed lunge by Houcine Rebai, which resulted in Conger rightly issuing a straight red card.

Satish Sekar
By Satish Sekar December 20, 2018 10:55