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Aston Villa boss Dean Smith blasts 'farcical' VAR decision

By Matt Maher | Aston Villa | Published:

Dean Smith blasted a “farcical” VAR decision as Villa crashed to a cruel defeat to Tottenham.

Aston Villa manager Dean Smith prior to the Premier League match at Villa Park, Birmingham. PA Photo. Picture date: Sunday February 16, 2020. See PA story SOCCER Villa. Photo credit should read: Nick Potts/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: EDITORIAL USE ONLY No use with unauthorised audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or "live" services. Online in-match use limited to 120 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications.

Son Heung-Min scored with virtually the last kick of the match to earn the visitors a 3-2 win and deal Villa a defeat which leaves them just a point above the Premier League drop zone.

But Smith took umbrage with a decision at the first-half when, with the game level at 1-1, VAR awarded the visitors a penalty when Bjorn Engels was adjudged to have fouled Steven Bergwijn.

Referee Martin Atkinson initially gave a goal-kick but was then over-ruled by video referee Jon Moss at Stockley Park.

Pepe Reina saved Son’s initial spot-kick but converted the rebound to put Spurs into a 2-1 lead.

Smith said: "I don't get it! There were 40,000 people in this stadium today and Martin Atkinson gives a goal kick and everyone in this stadium gives a goal kick.

“Even their player who had the shot. We go into a sterile environment and whoever the VAR is today looks at it 10 times, you're telling me that's clear and obvious? The criteria is clear and obvious.

“I said to Atkinson at half-time, I don't blame you but if you're brave enough to walk over to that monitor.

“It takes 30 seconds to look and say I'm happy with my decision, we play on. But, instead, we go upstairs and have it refereed.

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“If you look at it 20 times, you're going to see contact. Was it contact that put the lad off? Not sure. The criteria is clear and obvious. That was not clear and obvious. For me, it's farcical.”

Villa had gone into an early lead when Toby Alderweireld turned Anwar El Ghazi’s deflected cross into his own net, before then levelling the scores just before the half-hour mark.

After Son’s penalty, Engels atoned for giving away the spot-kick by heading home his first goal for the club.

But it was the Belgian defender’s error in the final seconds of stoppage time which allowed Son to scamper away and score the winner.

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"It's a sore one because of the time they score,” said Smith. “The last two games at Villa Park, we've been the victors of last-minute goals so we know how it feels.

"It's a tough one to take. Perhaps, more because of the performance. There was a lot of personality.

“We had a VAR decision go against us again which is disappointing but, if our performance levels are like that, we won't be too far wrong.”

Matt Maher

By Matt Maher
@mjmarr_star

Chief sports writer for the Express & Star.

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