Former Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez has expressed his frustration with the use of VAR after his Celta Vigo side was controversially denied a goal in their 2-1 defeat to Las Palmas. The incident occurred in the 36th minute, when Jorgen Strand Larsen rounded Las Palmas goalkeeper Alvaro Valles to put Celta ahead 1-0. However, after a VAR review, the goal was ruled out by the referee. Anastasios Douvakis was adjudged to have pulled the shirt of Mika Marmol in the build-up, even though Marmol was also seen holding Douvakis’s shirt.
Celta Vigo took the lead in the second half through Douvakis, but Las Palmas managed to secure a victory with an 84th minute penalty converted by Jonathan Vieira and a stoppage-time goal from Marc Cardona.
Benitez was visibly frustrated with the ruling that denied Larsen’s opener and claimed that it had a negative impact on his team emotionally. Speaking to DAZN after the match, he said, “It’s absurd, that in every game something has to happen to you and for a goal like that to be annulled. On an emotional level, it’s killing the team. You have the game under control, and again what if a penalty, what if a ball, what if a foul. How are we not going to lose in the end if we score a legal goal and they take it away from you? In the end, it is very complicated.”
Benitez also criticized the role of VAR in football, stating that decisions like these do not make sense and should not be called. He expressed frustration with the process, suggesting that the VAR referees are detached from the intensity of the game. “The VAR enters, who will be in a room calmly saying ‘no, if he does like this, I don’t know what.’ It just can’t be, this is football, we are not talking about ping-pong,” Benitez added.
This is the third time in eight matches that Benitez has seen his Celta side have a goal ruled out following a VAR review, including a disallowed opening effort against Real Madrid last month. Since taking over as Celta boss in the summer, Benitez has only overseen one win, and the team’s five losses have caused them to drop into the bottom three in La Liga.
Benitez’s comments come in the wake of a controversial weekend, during which Liverpool had a goal wrongly ruled out in their 2-1 defeat to Tottenham in the Premier League. Reds winger Luis Diaz had his strike disallowed for offside, but the VAR officials mistakenly believed the on-field decision was onside and failed to correct the error. Liverpool has since requested the release of the audio from the VAR for further review.