World Cup breaks penalty kick record with help of video assistant referees

There have now been more penalties awarded in the 2018 World Cup in Russia than in any previous edition.

Cristiano Ronaldo's saved effort following a video assistant referee review against Iran was the record 19th spot kick awarded in the tournament, which has yet to reach the knockout stage.

A VAR review later gave Iran a penalty in stoppage time.

Thus far, 15 of the 20 total penalties have been successfully converted.

In Brazil four years ago, there were only 13 penalties in the entire tournament. The previous World Cup record of 18 was first set in 1990, then matched in 1998 and 2002.

The role of VAR goes a long way to explaining this trend, with seven penalties so far being awarded following a video review, and VAR has also confirmed referees' decisions on the field on several occasions.

That said, this World Cup would be on course to beat the tally of 18 even without VAR.

A penalty was also disallowed in Brazil's win over Costa Rica on Friday after VAR deemed there was no foul on Neymar, while in Saudi Arabia's game against Egypt, for the first time, the referee rejected an official review of a spot kick he had given.

If the current rate continues, the World Cup is on course for a total of more than 30 spot kicks being awarded by the tournament's end.