It’s not football anymore. The Wolves crowd’s verdict at the latest VAR controversy echoed the views of many who love the game as those studying the screens at Stockley Park again overshadowed an absorbing Premier League encounter.
Willy Boly thought he had given Wolves the lead on the cusp of half-time, only for team-mate Pedro Neto to be deemed offside in the build-up, long after referee Mike Dean had given the goal.
It was another of those fractional decisions that infuriate, with the Wolves Twitter feed claiming ‘one of Neto’s studs’ had been in an illegal position after a short corner.
Conor Coady complains to referee Mike Dean after Wolves’ goal was ruled out by VAR
Willy Boly headed in but the goal was disallowed for an offside by Jota earlier in the move
Choudhury was sent off for a second yellow which appeared as rash as his first booking
MATCH FACTS AND LIVE PREMIER LEAGUE TABLE
Wolverhampton Wanderers (3-4-2-1): Rui Patricio; Boly, Coady, Saiss; Doherty, Dendoncker, Neves (Moutinho 81), Otto; Neto (Traore 64), Jota (Podence 78); Jimenez
Subs unused: Gibbs-White, Ruddy, Kilman, Buur
Booked: Dendoncker, Neves
Leicester City (4-1-4-1): Schmeichel; Pereira, Evans, Soyuncu, Chilwell; Choudhury; Perez (Albrighton 68), Tielemans (Praet 75), Maddison, Barnes (Morgan 90+4); Vardy
Subs unused: Justin, , Gray, Ward, Iheanacho
Sent off: Choudhury
Referee: Mike Dean
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It was easy to understand the anger. VAR also cost Wolves what would have been the winner in the reverse fixture at Leicester on the opening day of the season – the first of four goals chalked off by VAR for them this term.
With Manchester City set to miss the next two editions of the Champions League, fifth place may be good enough to reach the competition. Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo will surely be wondering if these marginal calls will cost his team a shot at it.
They created the better chances here against a Leicester side still searching for their early-season excellence, though this point may prove crucial in their own attempt to reach Europe’s elite.
Both managers had said the winter break would refresh their teams, yet based on the evidence of the opening 20 minutes, it has left them a little rusty.
Leicester would have been delighted to see both Adama Traore and Joao Moutinho – two of Wolves’ key players – left on the bench as they were carrying knocks, and they created the first opening of the match in the ninth minute.
Wolves players celebrated the goal before it was ruled out by Michael Oliver on VAR
Youri Tielemans’ deflected 30-yard strike was pushed away by Rui Patricio, and though Jamie Vardy – without a goal in his last five league games – worked the loose ball to Ayoze Perez, the Spaniard could not pick out a team-mate from a perfect crossing position.
Kasper Schmeichel then spared his team immediate punishment by saving with his feet from Diogo Jota, who had collected the ball unmarked inside the area following an excellent burst from the right by Pedro Neto, Traore’s replacement.
At the other end, Ruben Neves recovered to deny Tielemans another shot on goal after the Belgian had initially eluded him to run on to Vardy’s flick.
In front of Gareth Southgate, England hopefuls James Maddison and Harvey Barnes were struggling to make an impression. Barnes was regularly booed by the home fans because of his loan spell at their rivals West Brom last season, while Maddison was being well shackled by Leander Dendoncker.
Coady confronted Mike Dean at half time who was overheard saying he hadn’t seen the offside
The midfielder did create a chance for Caglar Soyuncu with a deep free-kick from the right, only for the Turkish centre-back to head the ball straight at Rui Patricio.
Maddison was then shown a yellow card for a raised boot that caught the head of Matt Doherty, who needed lengthy treatment.
The sloppy play continued from both sides. With half-time approaching, Hamza Choudhury was on his heels when Schmeichel passed to him and was robbed by Neto, but the winger – one of four Portuguese players among the starting 22 – sliced well wide.
Raul Jimenez was similarly wasteful two minutes later when, from an unmarked position at the far post, he failed even to threaten the goal from Jonny’s perfect left-wing cross.
A minute before half-time, VAR ruled out a Wolves goal against Leicester for the second time this season. Boly headed in from close range after Doherty had headed Neto’s cross back into the danger zone, yet the goal was ruled out due to a marginal offside against Neto, who had collected a return pass Jota following a short corner.
Hamza Choudhury is shown his first yellow card for a bad foul which had few complaints
To make matters worse for Wolves, Doherty fell to his knees straight after the goal and needed more treatment, though he was again cleared to continue.
Nuno and members of his staff directed their anger at fourth official Robert Jones and when the half-time whistle went, Wolves skipper Conor Coady raged at Dean and continued the discussion as they walked down the tunnel, with Neves and Neto also chipping in.
Having initially waited for Dean on the touchline, Nuno thought better of it and instead walked away shaking his head.
Wolves had looked more dangerous in the first half but at the start of the second, Leicester twice came close. First Romain Saiss did well to block Perez’s close-range attempt at the far post, and then Ricardo Pereira fired over from an angle after weaving his way into the area.
Adama Traore was sent on with 25 minutes to go but was unable to score the winner
With 25 minutes remaining, Nuno sent on his star man, with Traore cheered on to the pitch as he replaced Neto.
Traore could not unlock the door immediately but Wolves’ push for victory received a boost when Choudhury was sent off for a second booking. The second foul, on Leander Dendoncker, was as rash as the first, on Jimenez in the first half, and Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers made no attempt to console the young midfielder as he walked off the pitch.
With blood pouring from Doherty’s head wound, the Irishman looked like Terry Butcher in 1989, leading England to a 0-0 vital draw in their 1990 World Cup qualification campaign. The same result here will bring Wolves far less satisfaction, especially when another late chance when begging, Jimenez heading substitute Moutinho’s corner wide from eight yards and Traore’s powerful drive was pushed away by Schmeichel in stoppage time.
Brendan Rodgers applauded the Leicester fans after his team battled to a crucial away point
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