‘VAR is unacceptable’: Portugal defender Jose Fonte furious over Iran penalty controversy which cost top spot

Iago Aspas scored a late, VAR-assisted penalty to earn Spain a point as Iran won one of their own, to demote Portugal to a second-placed finish in a dramatic finale

Pete Hall
Tuesday 26 June 2018 01:28 BST
Portugal World Cup profile

Portugal defender Jose Fonte labelled the use of VAR “unacceptable” after Iran were controversially awarded a late penalty in the final Group B in Saransk, which was converted to deny Portugal top spot in a 1-1 draw.

Deep in stoppage time in the Mordovia Arena, Portugal looked set to seal top spot in the group at Spain’s expense, with their rivals trailing to Morocco in Kaliningrad, but as Iago Aspas scored a late, VAR-assisted penalty to earn Spain a point, Iran won one of their own, to then deny Portugal two points, and demote them to a second-placed finish in a dramatic finale.

Southampton full-back Cedric had to be pulled away from Paraguayan referee Enrique Caceres at the final whistle, following Caceres’ decision to award the late penalty after consulting VAR.

It was a busy night for the controversial system designed to help the on-pitch officials, with Cristiano Ronaldo escaping a red card despite having his clash with Morteza Pouraliganji reviewed, having previously won a penalty for a soft-looking foul earlier in the second half.

“This World Cup is just crazy!” Fonte said. “We are not happy with the situation, the constant stopping the game, the controversy all the time. We had an opportunity to make it 2-0, close the game out and we did not manage to score. Ronaldo scores for us so many times, so it is no problem – he is allowed an off day. He will get one in the next game.

Jose Fonte was unimpressed with VAR (Reuters)

“To end the game like that is just not fair. This VAR system is not my thing. Cedric is furious. In our opinion, he is not even looking at the ball. It is impossible to not have your arms raised in that position. How can you jump with both arms next to your body? It is impossible. The ball did not even change trajectory.

“In the end, we could have almost lost the game – VAR is unacceptable.”

The result means that Portugal now take on Uruguay in the last 16, with Spain getting hosts Russia, who were soundly beaten by the Uruguayans in Samara earlier on Monday. Fonte, though, does not believe the draw disadvantages Portugal in any way.

“In the end, we managed to qualify, which is always the main objective, and after that we will see what comes,” Fonte added. “We have to face whoever we face. When you have to face Russia, at home, with their crowd, it will be very difficult. They are a strong team, so whoever we comes we will face them.

“We are happy, how many teams have gone home? We are through and that is the main thing. We are not happy with how it went down in the last few minutes, but we were controlling the game, playing the ball out from the back, being patient, creating chances. In the end, we got done by a dubious decision and we have to move on. Sometimes you just don’t get the rub of the green.”

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