The VAR Review: How Kane was offside vs. Sporting, Scamacca challenge

Michallik: Not United's best performance against West Ham despite win (1:20)

Janusz Michallik doesn't think the Red Devils put on a good performance against the Hammers despite Rashford's 100th goal for United securing the three points. (1:20)

Video Assistant Referee causes controversy every week in the Premier League, but how are decisions made, and are they correct?

After each weekend we take a look at the major incidents, to examine and explain the process in terms of VAR protocol and the laws of the game.

But as it was a very quiet week for VAR in England, we start off by taking a look back on one of the most controversial incidents from last week's Champions League action.

- How VAR decisions affected every Prem club in 2022-23
- VAR's wildest moments: Alisson's two red cards in one game
- VAR in the Premier League: Ultimate guide

JUMP TO: Man United 1-0 West Ham | Brentford 1-1 Wolves | Fulham 0-0 Everton | Palace 1-0 Southampton | Newcastle 4-0 Villa

Tottenham Hotspur 1-1 Sporting CP

VAR overturn: Kane goal disallowed for offside

What happened: With just seconds remaining of five added minutes at the end of the Champions League game, Harry Kane scored what he thought was the winning goal to take Tottenham Hotspur into the knockout rounds of the Champions League.

VAR decision: Offside.

VAR review: It's a decision that angered many supporters, and not just those who follow Spurs -- and for a number of reasons. It's about ripping away the emotion of a dramatic, match-winning goal. Also the inertia that is experienced within a stadium when it takes an extended period of time for the VAR to deliver the verdict. And then the lack of clarity from a final image that many fans couldn't be expected to understand without clear explanation, something UEFA doesn't offer.

The Premier League gets plenty of criticism for the way VAR works in England, some of it warranted, but at least there is a line of communication to ask questions as incidents happen. It might not provide you with the answers you want or like, but there is the opportunity to get the context of decision-making.

The decision to rule out Kane's goal was correct based upon the information we have been presented, but you can't blame fans for having questions.

At the start of this season, UEFA became the first competition to embrace semi-automated offside technology (SAOT), which aims to make decisions much faster, more accurate and easier to understand using 3D animation. UEFA hasn't exactly been singing from the rooftops about this technology, with this campaign very much being a bedding-in process. Rasmus Falk of FC Copenhagen against Borussia Dortmund was the first player to have a goal disallowed using SAOT and 3D animation.

The old style of offside, which sees the VAR manually create lines to the players, has remained in the background; and it was this method that was used to show Kane was offside. UEFA has used it as a backup method in other games in the group stage, including for a disallowed goal for Rangers at Ajax on matchday one.

We are still learning about limitations SAOT might have, at least as far as UEFA's system is concerned. It doesn't track or have a sensor in the ball, which appears to have created an issue for visualisation when the ball is the reference point for the defensive line.

UEFA has told ESPN that SAOT was used to help the VAR make the decision on Kane's offside position, but the 3D animation for the decision is not available. It tracks all 22 players, so can tell the VAR that Kane was ahead of the last defender when the ball was headed on by Emerson Royal. (The offside line is set when a player touches the ball, not when it leaves whichever body part is used to make the pass.)

If SAOT is not tracking the ball in the same way it does players, there is no reference point to create the 3D animation. The visualisation would show that Kane is ahead of the defender but would not actually show the offside decision, as the ball is the defensive offside line. It creates the perfect storm -- a crucial, dramatic, match-winning goal is disallowed, but the 3D animation doesn't exist to make it very clear to supporters why the decision is made. All that is available is a grainy VAR image fans are largely left to interpret themselves.

FIFA will be using an enhanced SAOT for the World Cup, with ball tracking and a sensor within it to detect when it has been played. FIFA has confirmed to ESPN that its system has been fully tested with the ball as the defensive offside line and can visualise the decision using 3D animation.

The goal-line camera gives a clear indication that Kane is probably ahead of the ball and the defender when it was played by Royal. There was an edited version of this image being widely shared across social media that placed the defender's foot in front of Kane, but this was fake.

That VAR uses the manual offside system, the same as in use in all the domestic leagues and the other UEFA competitions, to confirm Kane's position -- and that's where the delay of 3 minutes, 30 seconds comes from; it wasn't about checking any other aspect, such as the play of the ball by the defender.

In law, it was a very straightforward decision once Kane's position had been established.

The pass went backwards
At the end of the match, Spurs defender Eric Dier was heard to shout at referee Danny Makkelie: "But why?! Why?! The ball went backwards!" It's a very common misconception that you can't be offside if the ball is played backwards, but the direction of a pass is irrelevant for offside. All that matters is the position of the attacker relative to the second-last opposition player and/or the ball. This is not a law change, it has always been the case.

'Deliberate play' by a defender
After Royal headed the ball backwards, it deflected off Sporting CP defender Nazinho and into the path of Kane to score, but this doesn't reset the striker's offside position. It has to be a "deliberate play" of the ball, with the player having control of his actions. A defender being positioned to block a cross, or the ball merely hitting him, doesn't constitute a "deliberate play." The best way to think of it is whether that player would be penalised for a back pass if the goalkeeper picked up the ball (only the foot counts for a back pass, but we can consider all body parts for this specific purpose.)

Possible handball
It also looked as if the ball might have brushed Nazinho's hand, but it came off his thigh first, with the arm in an expected position for his movement, so there would be no handball offence.

Defensive line to the ball
The front of the ball -- that nearest the goal -- is used to create the offside line. The benefit of the doubt would still apply if the two lines had touched, but Kane's offside position wasn't close enough for this, there is a gap. And finally, "clear and obvious" doesn't apply to offside when technology is being used -- the final result will always determine offside position.

Manchester United 1-0 West Ham United

Possible red card: Scamacca for high challenge on Martinez

What happened: In the 50th minute, Gianluca Scamacca caught Manchester United defender Lisandro Martinez with a high boot inside the penalty area. The West Ham United striker was already on a yellow card, but referee Chris Kavanagh chose not to give him a second caution.

VAR decision: No red card.

VAR review: Scamacca was exceptionally lucky to escape a second yellow, and had he not already been booked, the card would probably have come out.

However, the VAR (Paul Tierney) can advise only on a straight red card rather than a second yellow leading to the red.

It would only be possible for a yellow card to be shown if the VAR sent the referee to the monitor for a red card review, and the referee decided it was worthy only of a caution -- although this has yet to happen in the Premier League. The referee retains all disciplinary options at the monitor once a review has been initiated.

Brentford 1-1 Wolverhampton Wanderers

VAR red card: Costa violent conduct on Mee

What happened: Deep into injury time Diego Costa clashed with Ben Mee off the ball. The VAR instigated a review for a serious missed incident.

VAR decision: Red card.

VAR review: An easy decision for the VAR, Peter Bankes, who advised referee Bobby Madley that Costa had head-butted the Brentford defender.

Costa will now get a three-match ban for violent conduct, which with the break for the World Cup coming up means he cannot play for Wolves again until Dec. 26.

Fulham 0-0 Everton

Possible red card: Mitrovic on Gueye

What happened: In the 23rd minute, Aleksandar Mitrovic challenged for the ball with Idrissa Gueye and caught the Everton midfielder with his studs. Referee John Brooks, who had a very clear view of the incident, showed a yellow card, but the VAR, Darren England, checked for a possible red card.

VAR decision: No red card.

VAR review: The Fulham striker can consider himself very lucky, because if Brooks had shown the red card, that wouldn't have been overturned.

Only Mitrovic himself will know his true intentions, but the low force and momentum in the nature of the challenge meant a yellow card was just about an acceptable disciplinary outcome.

We see similar challenges each week, when contact on an opponent is with the sole of the boot above the ankle. Often in these incidents it's the force of the challenge that determines whether it should be a yellow card or a red, and it also comes down to the subjective judgment of the referee and how they assess the challenge.

Crystal Palace 1-0 Southampton

Possible foul in the build-up to a goal: Zaha on Lyanco

What happened: Crystal Palace scored the match-winning goal through Odsonne Edouard in the 38th minute. However, in the build-up, Lyanco went to ground when Wilfried Zaha won the ball.

VAR decision: Goal stands.

VAR review: As we saw last week with the goals for Manchester City's Erling Haaland against Brighton & Hove Albion and Callum Wilson for Newcastle United at Tottenham Hotspur, the VAR is not going to get involved unless there has been a clear foul before the goal.

There was very little difference between this clash and Haaland outmuscling Lewis Dunk. It's the kind of decision that would be left to the referee live in the game.

Newcastle United 4-0 Aston Villa

Penalty check: Handball by Young

What happened: Newcastle opened the scoring deep into first-half stoppage time when Callum Wilson scored from the penalty spot after referee Paul Tierney pointed to the penalty spot for a handball by Aston Villa defender Ashley Young.

VAR decision: Penalty stands.

VAR review: This is the textbook definition of a handball with a defender making his body bigger. Young had his arm way above his head when he blocked the shot from Miguel Almiron.

Information provided by UEFA, FIFA, the Premier League and PGMOL was used in this story.