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VAR controversy dominates A-League semi

NZN 30/04/2017 Emma Kemp

Josh Brillante might have scored a late contender for A-League goal of the season, but the video assistant referee stole the semi-final spotlight.

The new video replay technology, trialled in a world first in Australia, was a polarising game-changer for Sydney FC on Saturday night.

Two disallowed goals to the Sky Blues - their second and third - were overturned by VAR Strebre Delovksi, allowing Graham Arnold's premiers to surge to a 3-0 lead over Perth by halftime at Allianz Stadium.

That scoreline snuffed out any chance of a Glory fightback and sealed passage to a home grand final next Sunday afternoon.

It means Sydney remain the only A-League beneficiaries of the groundbreaking but controversial system, which FIFA president Gianni Infantino this week confirmed will be used at the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

Last season, two split-second decisions by the linesman would have stood and Perth might have pulled off an unlikely upset.

The fact that they didn't split both pundits and fans, particularly regarding the first decision.

With Sydney 1-0 up in the 37th minute, defender Jordy Buijs won the ball and surged in on goal.

The Dutchman's initial shot was saved by Liam Reddy and though his follow-up effort hit the back of the net the flag was raised against Bobo, who was offside but had not touched the ball.

When referee Peter Green signalled the call was under review and Delovksi ruled it would stand the Glory camp erupted in anger, claiming Bobo had impeded defender Dino Djulbic.

The decision sparked explosive debate on social media, but former Socceroos goalkeeper and Fox Sports pundit Mark Bosnich praised the call from the cave as correct on the basis Djulbic would never have gotten to the ball in time.

"He knows he's not going to get there and runs into the back of Bobo to make it look like interference," Bosnich said.

"It's exactly what the VAR is there for."

Former Sydney FC captain Mark Rudan agreed, as did ex-Socceroo Robbie Slater, but Perth skipper Rostyn Griffiths said it was "super disappointing" - though later applauded Sydney's class on Twitter.

Nine minutes later Filip Holosko was ruled offside when heading home a Brandon O'Neill cross and the linesman was again overruled by Delovksi in a more straightforward call.

An initially incensed Kenny Lowe remained unconvinced over the first decision but said "that's what it's there for so you can't complain about it" and hailed Sydney as the better side.

Unsurprisingly, Arnold felt justice had been done.

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