Roy Hodgson thankful for VAR – but sympathises with referee Martin Atkinson in Crystal Palace draw

By Jake Sanders

Roy Hodgson was thankful for the Video Assistant Referee, who he thought got both decisions spot on during Crystal Palace’s 2-2 draw with Arsenal at the Emirates on Sunday.

Sokratis and David Luiz put the Gunners 2-0 in front, but the Eagles rallied and fought back thanks to a VAR-overturned penalty from Luka Milivojevic and a Jordan Ayew header.

Palace’s first goal was initially given against Wilfried Zaha, who was adjudged to have dived by referee Martin Atkinson, before VAR awarded Hodgson’s side a penalty.

There was more controversy seven minutes from time as Sokratis lashed home what he thought was a late Arsenal winner, but the Video Assistant Referee once more intervened and noticed a foul on Milivojevic by Gunners defender Callum Chambers and disallowed the goal.

“Referees make decision on the spur-of-the-moment,” the Eagles boss admitted. “I think that was one of the situations where VAR showed it’s true merits.

“This is one of the best referees in the world, let alone the Premier League – I am pretty certain that in pre-VAR days, when his decision on the field might have stood, he would have gone in at half-time, probably looked at the videos and then realised ‘whoops, I might have got that wrong, it was a penalty’ and then of course he goes home this evening, turns the television on and all of the pundits are analysing the game and they also say ‘the referee got it wrong’  but luckily, the decision got overturned and I am pretty certain that Martin is perfectly comfortable with that, because it means that his spur-of-the-moment decision turned out to be the wrong one and I am sure he is man enough to accept glad and be glad it got overturned and the right decision was made.”

Talking about the Sokratis goal that was chalked off, Hodgson said: “A lot goes on in the penalty box in those situations, but I have seen it now of course and I do understand why it was disallowed.”

PICTURES BY KEITH GILLARD

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