VAR delays draw ire of coaches as Victory pick up steam ahead of finals

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Melbourne Victory’s 3-1 win over Wellington Phoenix on Friday night was thoroughly overshadowed by the ever-controversial VAR, which resulted in three penalties and a disallowed goal over the course of the match.

But it was the glacial pace at which the decisions were made, rather than the decisions themselves, which drew the most complaints from both sides.

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Victory coach Tony Popovic sounded off after the game, explaining that the long wait times have ramifications for the players on the pitch.

“It would be nice if the decisions were made quicker, because it builds anxiety and frustration amongst the players,” he said.

“Make the decision, make it quickly, and then move on. If we can fix that it will obviously help the situation.”

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Ufuk Talay also took issue with the fact that VAR took 11 minutes of playing time to resolve decisions in the second half alone, saying the referees had become “reliant” on VAR to make the decisions.

“I feel like it’s being used as a safety net,” he said.

For Victory, the three points in this encounter means they leapfrog Western United into second place for the time being. While holding onto that spot is somewhat out of their hands, Popovic said the performances towards the back end of the season have been highly encouraging.

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“It was a tough night both in terms of the conditions and mentally, but in spite of that it was very good to finish our regular season at home with a win,” he said.

“I thought we showed a great deal of maturity from the start of the second half, everyone composed themselves at halftime and we totally controlled the game.”

With their unbeaten streak reaching the 14-game mark, Victory will head into the finals amongst the most in-form sides in the competition, regardless of where they end up on the ladder.

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A huge part of that has been the resurgence of Marco Rojas. He added a magnificent assist and goal to his season tally last night, and Victory can expect him to be instrumental if their premiership dreams are to be realised.

“He’s grown as the season’s gone along, it took him until round 16 to play the full 90 minutes,” Popovic said of Rojas.

“He’s unfortunately had a lot of injuries to deal with in the past couple of years. Once he played that first full game you could tell he was stronger and capable of contributing more.”

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With an all-Victorian top three locked in, A-League Men fans are in for an exciting finals series, and Victory intend to be right in the middle of it.

Feature Image Credit: Ngau Kai Yan

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Mitchell Turner
Third Year Undergraduate Arts Student at Monash University (Journalism Major). Generic sports tragic living out my failed dreams of going pro vicariously through other people.

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