VAR call for England's spot-kick in Euro semi-final was just ridiculous. The referee's decision was inexplicable!

VAR call for England's spot-kick in Euro semi-final was just ridiculous. The referee's decision was inexplicable! VAR call for England's spot-kick in semi-final was just ridiculous.

Euro 2024 should have been the tournament when VAR finally won over a few sceptics.

Quick semi-automated offside decisions. Just the one iffy handball decision against Germany. Scotland were so bad, even the Tartan Army were prepared to overlook that late Stuart Armstrong shout against Hungary.

You can’t keep a rampant attention seeker out of the headlines for long, however. Like one of those professional trolls addicted to being wrong about everything in the quest for likes and retweets, VAR craved a bit of attention. It needed people to sit up and take notice.

Battered from pillar to post for the timing and quality of his substitutions, Gareth Southgate made two brave calls here. And, to the England manager’s enormous credit, Cole Palmer and Ollie Watkins provided spectacular vindication. None of that alters an inconvenient truth likely to be overlooked in the hype and hysteria of the days between now and Sunday, of course.

After falling a goal down to an early Xavi Simons strike for the Netherlands, England were gifted parity by the most inexplicable VAR intervention of Euro 2024. It was a piece of game-changing folly. Before a ball was kicked, Jude Bellingham and co harboured concerns over referee Felix Zwayer after a six-month ban for match-fixing. It was ironic, then, that the German should award the Three Lions the most ridiculous spot-kick of the tournament.

When Denzel Dumfries raised his boot in the area to block a Harry Kane rising shot, it was a risky manoeuvre for any defender in the current climate. As soon as the referee decided it was a fair challenge, the intervention of VAR Bastian Dankert became a bewildering business.

There’s an unwritten rule in football that when a player completes a shot on goal and is caught by a defender then, generally speaking, there should be no penalty.

Witnessed at close range by Herr Zwayer, there was no evidence of a clear or obvious error. Barely even a high boot. Adopting the view that Dumfries was reckless or dangerous — despite the replay showing that Kane actually kicked his opponent — it was a ludicrous call from the most utilised and experienced VAR in the competition.

Dankert’s ninth game in the booth, he saved his worst intervention for last.

Kane staged a swift recovery to take the spot-kick and England began to enjoy themselves.

Give England their due. For five games, Southgate’s team had stunk the place out.

Contesting their third semi-final in six years, they played their best football of the tournament in the first half. They played with tempo, verve, imagination and dogged determination, dominated midfield and looked like the team everyone could see from the outset.

Phil Foden came ridiculously close to emulating Yamine Lamal’s sublime strike against France. Bukayo Saka, a terrific footballer, was everywhere. At 19 years old, Kobbie Mainoo showed maturity in midfield.

The second half was more like the England people have come to expect. The beer glasses started flying around when Saka thought he’d scored the winner with 12 minutes to play. VAR, this time, got the offside decision right.

The arrival of Palmer and Watkins for Kane and Foden was a courageous call by Southgate. When the Aston Villa impact sub smashed a quite brilliant winner into the far corner of the net, it paid off in spectacular fashion.

England had finally reached their first major tournament on foreign soil.

Two major obstacles still block the path to glory — and a Southgate knighthood — in Berlin in Sunday night.

One is a formidable Spain team boasting the extravagant talents of Yamal. The other is the absence, for obvious reasons, of a Russian linesman.

Another performance like this from the VAR and even that won’t stop them

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