Nuno Santo urged the Premier League to ‘get VAR right’ after his side’s contentious defeat to Leicester, whose boss Brendan Rodgers hailed their ‘incredible’ start.
Santo’s side fell foul to a harsh handball decision against Max Kilman which allowed Jamie Vardy to open the scoring from the spot for the only goal of the game at the King Power Stadium.
That penalty was only awarded after VAR official Stuart Atwell directed on-field referee Anthony Taylor to assess the incident on the pitchside review monitor.
On the back of a number of controversial handball decisions this season, Santo feels the frustration towards the implementation of the video referee since its introduction last season is still far from being resolved.
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“What we expect from VAR is good, consistent decisions and this is not happening,” Santo told his post-match press conference. “Week in, week out we see different things. Until they get it right, we’ll be talking about it over and over again, something we don’t want.
“We have enough problems in football to be suspicious about anything, I don’t want to think about that. I haven’t seen the images, so it’s unfair for me to tell [on this decision]. But in our days we can see decisions are not being consistent enough for us to stop talking about them, so let’s hope for a better situation in the future.
“Credit to Leicester in the way they pressed and moved the ball. Their midfielders were very comfortable, and we should have done better with that. We created more situations in the second half, not as many as we wish.”
Guidance around the handball rule has been amended in the Premier League in response to the backlash against a string of earlier incidents this season. Sky Sports’ Micah Richards labelled the decision that Kilman’s arm was in an unnatural position to handle Dennis Praet’s cross “harsh”.
Santo added his own frustration to Sky Sports after full-time, saying: “The game goes beyond these situations but I think we reacted well. This is what the law says. There’s no way to coach a player to defend without the natural movements of the arm but it is what it is. What we want is consistency.”
Rodgers: ‘Incredible start’ as Leicester go top
Rodgers was in unsurprisingly chipper mood as his side moved top of the Premier League with a deserved sixth win from their opening eight games, and a third in six days over tough opposition in the shape of Leeds, Braga and now Wolves.
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“I think it’s the best win of the three,” he said. “With so many players out and such a tough schedule, it was an incredible performance. We had to show a different side to the team today, I thought first half we were very good in our football, some of the quality of combinations, how we got through Wolves and into dangerous areas was very good, and we should have been maybe more than 1-0 up.
“It’s been an incredible start, I’m so happy for the players. It’s important in any season your first steps are positives, and with all players available it would’ve been really good, but for the players we’ve had out for the guys to show that quality and resilience, it’s what you want as a manager.
“We’ll get some recovery into the players, and after the international break hopefully we’ll get another few back and then have another busy but exciting run into the Christmas period.”
With Leicester given two penalties before half-time – the second missed by Vardy – the Foxes made Premier League history as the first club to be awarded eight spot-kicks in the opening eight games of the season.
In 2019/20, the first team to reach eight league penalties were Manchester United, 16 games into the campaign.
Rodgers said: “I haven’t seen the penalties back, I don’t want to dedicate too much time to it. There’s so much time to it, whether it’s natural or unnatural. We got two penalties, we should’ve been further in front, but overall we played very well.”
Timeline of Leicester’s eight PL penalties this season
Sunday 13 September – West Brom 0-3 Leicester
Leicester were awarded two penalties in their first game of the season against West Brom. Jamie Vardy was held back in the box by Kyle Bartley for the first before Dara O’Shea clumsily took down James Justin in the box. Vardy converted both penalties.
Sunday 27 September – Man City 2-5 Leicester
Three of Leicester’s penalties this season came in an incredible game against Man City. Kyle Walker tripped Vardy and the England striker duly converted the first penalty. He did so again in the 58th minute to complete his hat-trick after he was fouled by Eric Garcia.
The final one was taken by Youri Tielemans late on, slotting home after Benjamin Mendy had fouled James Maddison to round off a famous victory.
Monday 2 November – Leeds 1-4 Leicester
Tielemans added another penalty to his tally late in the day against Leeds last week. This one was awarded by VAR after it spotted Mateusz Klich’s foul on Maddison just inside the area. The Belgian converted in the 91st minute to add a gloss to the 4-1 victory.
Sunday 8 November – Leicester 1-0 Wolves
Another penalty double – but with differing results. Max Kilman was penalised for handball, given after Anthony Taylor’s consulted the pitchside monitor. Vardy converted again for the first, but was unable to add a second. Rayan Ait-Nouri fouled Justin and the Leicester striker stepped up, but Rui Patricio saved his effort.
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