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VAR must be reliable, says Jose Mourinho despite Manchester United’s FA Cup win

Manchester United offered his take after a controversial VAR call during Manchester United’s 2-0 win over Huddersfield in the FA Cup on Saturday

football Updated: Feb 18, 2018 16:46 IST
Agence France-Presse
Agence France-Presse
Agence France-Presse, Huddersfield
Manchester United,FA Cup,Jose Mourinho
Manchester United's Portuguese manager Jose Mourinho gestures on the touchline during the English FA Cup fifth round football match against Huddersfield Town at the John Smith's stadium in Huddersfield on Sunday.(AFP)

Jose Mourinho believes Video Assistant Referee (VAR) technology must be more reliable before being rolled out across English football after his Manchester United side saw a goal ruled out in Saturday’s 2-0 FA Cup 5th round win at Huddersfield.

Juan Mata’s strike was eventually disallowed for the most marginal of offside calls just before half-time after a lengthy delay.

United, weren’t made to rue that decision, though, as Romelu Lukaku struck early in both halves to ease their passage into a quarter-final at home to Brighton.

“I think our game is so beautiful that to change we have to change for the better,” said Mourinho, who had previously backed the use of VAR.

“If they find a way in the VAR that the VAR is always right and always bring the truth, I’m happy.”

Mourinho’s men opened the scoring as early as the third minute, an ideal start as they looked to exorcise the memories of their Premier League defeat at the same ground in October.

It was a goal as simple as it was effective as Lukaku received a pass from Nemanja Matic and laid it off, quickly, to Mata.

The Spanish midfielder was equally perceptive in playing through a return pass for Lukaku who chased it into the area, switched feet to put his marker Christopher Schindler out of the game, and curled a perfect finish into the far corner of the Huddersfield goal.

Lukaku and Sanchez link up

Lukaku’s second goal, in the 55th minute, was similar but, if anything, even more impressive as the Belgian picked up the ball deep in his own half and set off upfield, outpacing his markers.

After a pass to Alexis Sanchez, and a stunning return ball from the Chilean, Lukaku continued to outpace the entire Town defence before converting his 21st goal of the season from just inside the area.

“I’ve been doing it for years now,” said Lukaku of breaking through the 20-goal mark on his debut season at Old Trafford.

“I have to keep going and, at the end of the day I’m at Manchester United, and the main goal is to win trophies.”

After a week of controversy concerning Paul Pogba’s future at Old Trafford, the goals were a perfect antidote to the speculation -- or “lies” as Mourinho had labelled it.

Pogba had failed to travel for the tie, reporting sick on the morning of the game and leading United to take the highly unusual step of making an official announcement that he would be unavailable due to illness.

“He was in the team but this morning he was not feeling right to play,” added Mourinho. “So he’s ill and now we have to wait to see what is going on.”

The biggest talking point of the game came a minute before the break when Ashley Young sped down the right and crossed for Mata.

He skilfully gathered the ball and rounded keeper Jonas Lossl before tapping into the open goal, only to see referee Kevin Friend seek clarification from VAR official Neil Swarbrick.

After a lengthy delay, during which rival managers Mourinho and David Wagner chatted amiably, the VAR ruled that Mata’s kneecap had strayed just offside and disallowed the goal.

“Yes, the decision went in our favour but this VAR for me kills the emotion of the game,” said Wagner.

“This is why I don’t like it but I am not the person who makes the decision.”

First Published: Feb 18, 2018 16:36 IST