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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 19 July 2018

Five controversial VAR moments in the World Cup so far

Debate has swirled during the group stages of the World Cup after the introduction of the technology 

The big screen as an incident is reviewed on VAR during the Argentina versus Nigeria match. Reuters
The big screen as an incident is reviewed on VAR during the Argentina versus Nigeria match. Reuters

Like it or loathe it, there's been no avoiding the Video Assistant Referee during the opening weeks of the 2018 World Cup.

Many matches have had incidents which have required VAR, and resulted in correct decisions being made.

However, there's been occasions when it should have been used and wasn't, so the system has created great debate among fans and pundits as to whether it should be deemed a success.

Here are five key moments involving VAR so far:

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epaselect epa06830515 Neymar (R) of Brazil in action against Costa Rica's Giancarlo Gonzalez (L) in the penalty box during the FIFA World Cup 2018 group E preliminary round soccer match between Brazil and Costa Rica in St.Petersburg, Russia, 22 June 2018. (RESTRICTIONS APPLY: Editorial Use Only, not used in association with any commercial entity - Images must not be used in any form of alert service or push service of any kind including via mobile alert services, downloads to mobile devices or MMS messaging - Images must appear as still images and must not emulate match action video footage - No alteration is made to, and no text or image is superimposed over, any published image which: (a) intentionally obscures or removes a sponsor identification image; or (b) adds or overlays the commercial identification of any third party which is not officially associated with the FIFA World Cup) EPA/ANATOLY MALTSEV EDITORIAL USE ONLY
Neymar goes down under a light challenge by Costa Rica's Giancarlo Gonzalez. EPA

Neymar's dive

This is what VAR was made for. Brazil were struggling to break down a solid Costa Rica when Brazil's golden boy, Neymar, felt a slight tug of his shirt inside the penalty area. The referee, who was only a few yards away, bought it and pointed to the spot. VAR was called upon and the truth was revealed – the impact on Neymar wouldn't have knocked over a toddler.

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Soccer Football - World Cup - Group B - Iran vs Portugal - Mordovia Arena, Saransk, Russia - June 25, 2018 Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo as Iran's Ramin Rezaeian and Morteza Pouraliganji react before a red card decision was referred to VAR REUTERS/Matthew Childs
Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo walks away as Iran's Ramin Rezaeian and Morteza Pouraliganji react before a red-card decision was referred to VAR. Reuters

Ronaldo's elbow

Life usually goes how Cristiano Ronaldo wants it to – and so it should with his talent and work ethic. But in Portugal's clash with Iran, he wasn't having one of his better days, having missed a penalty and struggled along with his teammates to see off their lower-ranked opponents. Then he gave chase to a ball over the top and flung an arm towards the head of Morteza Pouraliganji, who was attempting to hold him up. The Iranian fell to the floor and VAR deemed the offence worthy of a yellow card. Ronaldo either whacked him in the head or he didn't – red card or nothing.

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SARANSK, RUSSIA - JUNE 25: Sardar Azmoun of Iran heads the ball on Cedric of Portugal's arm to gain a penalty during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia group B match between Iran and Portugal at Mordovia Arena on June 25, 2018 in Saransk, Russia. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
Sardar Azmoun of Iran heads the ball on to the arm of Portugal's Cedric, which resulted in a penalty. Getty

Iran penalty

Has the handball rule been changed? Because there was nothing deliberate in the way the ball connected with the arm of Portugal's Cedric near the end of their 1-1 draw with Portugal – the second crucial VAR moment in the match. A deep cross was swung over and Iran's Sardar Azmoun nodded it down via the arm of Cedric, who was mid-air at the time. VAR says review, referee reverses decision and says penalty. The more you watch it, the more ludicrous it gets. And if you are in the market for more ludicrous penalty decisions involving handballs, then take a look at the one awarded in the Saudi Arabia versus Egypt game, when the concept of "deliberate" was again completely absent.

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VOLGOGRAD, RUSSIA - JUNE 18: Harry Kane of England and Yassine Meriah of Tunisia clash during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia group G match between Tunisia and England at Volgograd Arena on June 18, 2018 in Volgograd, Russia. (Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images)
Harry Kane of England and Yassine Meriah, right, of Tunisia clash. Getty

Harry Kane wrestling match

The entire English nation and probably most of the rest of the world watching England versus Tunisia were left scratching their heads as to when wrestling became part of football. On two occasions, Harry Kane was practically body slammed to the ground as corners were swung over. Was VAR tuned in to WWE instead of the football? Everyone else saw it. And while we are on the subject of grappling in the penalty box, how did it miss the manhandling of Serbian man-mountain Aleksandar Mitrovic in the match with Switzerland, when he had not one, but two defenders bear-hugging him to the floor.

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Swede and sour

Germany against Sweden was goalless when Sweden's UAE-based striker Marcus Berg raced through on goal with Jerome Boateng in hot pursuit. Berg was about the pull the trigger as he entered the penalty area and was the recipient of both a shove in the back and a trip as the chance to take the lead went begging. A quick replay cleared up the incident. Penalty. Was a penalty given? No.

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Read more:

World Cup 2018: Day 14 updates - Maradona health scare; Germany and Neymar's Brazil in action

Maradona, tears and pandemonium as Argentina knock Nigeria out of World Cup - in pictures

Marcus Berg, the self-deprecating successor to Ibrahimovic who Sweden rely on for more than just goals

When is VAR used?

Goals

Penalty decisions

Direct red-card incidents

Mistaken identity