KAZAN, Russia — Portugal coach Fernando Santos was visibly angry on the sidelines as a goal in his team’s 2-2 Confederations Cup draw against Mexico on Sunday was ruled out by the video assistant referee (VAR).
Cristiano Ronaldo struck a free kick from 30 yards into the wall in the 21st minute and when the ball was played back into the box, Ronaldo fired a loose ball onto the crossbar with Pepe eventually putting the ball into the net.
Portugal celebrated, but the game was then held up as the referee waited for the assistant to check the replay, before the goal was ruled out roughly 40 seconds later because Pepe had been adjudged to be offside.
Match official Nestor Pitana also felt the need to refer Cedric Soares’ effort on Portugal’s second goal for another opinion. With no communication to players or fans why referrals were being made there was a slight sense of uncertainty and confusion and, while Santos accepted that was to be expected with new technology, he found it frustrating.
“Those are the rules and if they benefit football, great,” said Santos in the news conference afterwards. “But no one has yet worked them out very well.
“It was a previous play, after Cristiano had struck the post with his shot. It was very confusing.”
Santos went on to suggest that “it was always our goals” that the VAR was used, but added the team will accept it. Mexico was slightly more positive, with goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa acknowledging that the decision did take time, but that it was the right decision in the end.
“The doubts and hold-up are normal, but over time it will become polished and get better,” said Ochoa. “It will help unlawful goals being added to the score, for both teams. It is beneficial for fair football.”
Mexico captain Andres Guardado towed the same line and was adamant that technology will be good for the game over the long run.
“Technology is advancing and football can’t fall behind in that sense,” said Guardado.
For his part, Mexico coach Juan Carlos Osorio was satisfied with his team’s performance and particularly the way they kept Portugal’s star man Ronaldo quiet — even if he did somewhat strangely still win man of the match for his only two pieces of positive intervention: hitting the crossbar and providing the assist for Ricardo Quaresma’s opening goal.
“We played the European champions on equal terms, we generated chances but couldn’t finish them,” said Osorio. “We also managed to keep Cristiano Ronaldo in check. I think it was a very good result for Mexico.”
Tom Marshall covers Liga MX and the Mexican national team for ESPN FC. Twitter: @MexicoWorldCup.