History made as VAR used for first time in World Cup match

There was a moment of history at Russia 2018 on Saturday as the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) was used for the first ...

Posted: Jun 17, 2018 9:20 AM
Updated: Jun 17, 2018 9:20 AM

There was a moment of history at Russia 2018 on Saturday as the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) was used for the first time to reverse a decision in a World Cup match.

With France's Group C match against Australia deadlocked, Paul Pogba threaded a pinpoint pass to Antoine Griezmann, who went down in the box following Joshua Risdon's challenge.

France 2-1 Australia

VAR used for first time in World Cup

Referee overturns controversial decision

Peru 0-1 Denmark

Uruguayan referee Andres Cunha initially waved away Griezmann's protests and play went on ... until VAR took center stage.

After reviewing the footage pitchside for little more than 30 seconds, Cunha overturned his original decision and awarded France a penalty, much to the fury of the Australian players.

Up stepped Griezmann to confidently tuck the controversial penalty into the corner.

It wasn't the final say technology would have in this game.

Australia equalized through Mile Jedinak with a penalty of their own following Samuel Umtiti's inexplicable decision to handle a cross, but soon afterwards it was the turn of goal-line technology to steal the show.

In Brazil four years ago, France became the first team in World Cup history to be awarded a goal using goal-line technology and they again had it to thank in Russia.

Pogba's deflected shot towards goal cannoned off the underside of the crossbar and bounced out into Mat Ryan's arms, but Cunha's watch buzzed to indicate the ball had crossed the line and France held on to secure a 2-1 win.

READ: Will there be redemption for Mat Ryan and Australia at Russia 2018?

READ: France's 'Rainbow Team' look back at historic World Cup triumph

At the World Cup, VAR technology is only used to correct "clear and obvious mistakes" -- to allow or disallow goals, award or deny penalties, show or rescind red cards, or correct instances of mistaken identity when a referee disciplines the wrong player.

Emulating the class of 1998

The man sat in France's dugout knows a thing or two about winning a World Cup.

Deschamps, the captain and leader of France's victorious 1998 "Rainbow team," has again been given the responsibility of bringing football's greatest prize back to France.

Despite his place in French football folklore, Deschamps' position at the helm of the national team doesn't come without pressure.

Leading arguably the most gifted generation of French footballers since that class of 1998, Russia 2018 may be Deschamp's final chance to win a major trophy as manager after the crushing Euro 2016 final defeat on home soil.

"In Didier Deschamps we have got a manager who was in the dressing room in 1998," Griezmann told reporters before the game. "He was even the captain, so he'll take us to the right path.

"It makes you want to copy it and bring this World Cup back to France. That is the dream."

There were early warning signs that this could be a walk in the park for France in Kazan -- and a long afternoon for Australia -- as Benjamin Pavard released Kylian Mbappe, who brought a sharp early save from Ryan.

The Socceroos goalkeeper was by far the busiest player on the pitch in the opening five minutes, stopping a Pogba free-kick, before getting down well to save a long distance strike from Griezmann.

But after 15 minutes of solid defending, Australia grew into the game and conjured up the best chance so far.

Aaron Mooy's free-kick into the box was inadvertently prodded towards his own goal by Corentin Tolisso, but his blushes were spared by captain Hugo Lloris who made brilliant, low save.

After what proved to be an even first half, the controversy began 10 minutes into the second.

First came that VAR decision and then Hawk-Eye confirmed France's second goal as Australia were floored by football's use of technology

The Socceroos will undoubtedly leave frustrated having come away with nothing after performing so well, but know easier tests lie ahead in Peru and Denmark, who face each other in Group C's second match.

VAR intervenes again

The VAR technology was in action again later in the Group C match between Peru and Denmark.

Peru had waited 36 years to appear at a World Cup and few nations will have endured a more nervous build-up to Russia 2018.

The nation's captain and talisman, Paolo Guerrero, tested positive for accidental cocaine consumption and was banned from the World Cup, before being given a reprieve and then being banned again.

Eventually, in a huge boost to an entire nation, his ban was temporarily lifted to allow him to compete in Russia.

READ: Paolo Guerrero granted leave to play Russia 2018

READ: Guerrero's shattered World Cup dream prompts calls for anti-doping reform

With Guerrero starting on the bench, the responsibility of scoring Peru's first World Cup goal since 1982 fell at the feet of Christian Cueva.

The 26-year-old was brought down in the box by Denmark striker Yussuf Poulsen, but Gambian referee Bakary Papa Gassama initially waved play on.

Once the ball was in a neutral area of the pitch, Gassama reviewed the decision and awarded the penalty.

The huge Peruvian contingent, vastly outnumbering the Danish fans in the Mordovia Arena, nervously covered their eyes with red and white scarves and flags.

Such was the force with which Peru fans celebrated Jefferson Farfan's opening goal against New Zealand in their World Cup playoff, an earthquake detector was activated in the capital Lima at the exact moment the ball crossed the line.

But there was to be no seismic activity in Saransk, as Cueva stepped up and blasted his penalty high into the stands.

The halftime whistle sounded soon after, and while Peruvian fans consoled each other, Peru's players rushed to support Cueva as the teams headed for the dressing rooms.

Despite looking devastated as he trudged off, Cueva put his disappointment behind him early in the second half.

The Sao Paulo star weaved his way through the Denmark defense, before setting up Farfan in front of goal, but the winger stumbled while shooting.

But it was a slack pass in another Peruvian attack which allowed Denmark to break and exploit the space left by fullback Luis Adv-ncula, who had gone on one of his typical marauding runs.

Christian Eriksen made the most of his opportunity, threading a pass into Poulsen who beat Pedro Gallese at his exposed near post.

Cue bedlam among the small group of Danish fans behind the goal, while a pained silence fell over the 20,000 Peruvians in the stadium.

Undeterred, Peru continued to press forward and Cueva drew a fine save from Kasper Schmeichel moments later, before substitute Guerrero directed a cheeky, improvised backheel agonizingly wide of the post.

Schmeichel blocked Farfan's shot on the line late on, while Gallese denied Eriksen as Denmark looked to put the game to bed.

In the end, Denmark held on for the victory as some of Peru's players slumped to the turf and others tried to rally them.

Cuevas, however, was inconsolable.

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