Newcastle were denied a famous win in the French capital on Tuesday night when Paris Saint-Germain were awarded a last-minute penalty following a questionable VAR decision
That is a clear sign that UEFA views Tomasz Kwiatkowski’s intervention as a mistake that robbed Newcastle of a famous Champions League victory. Polish official Kwiatkowski was due to be on duty for Real Sociedad’s game with Salzburg but has been replaced.
The assistant VAR, Ivan Bebek, has also been stood down from Benfica’s game with Inter Milan. Referee Szymon Marciniak did not have a game on Wednesday, but it is clear that UEFA regards it as a clear VAR error.
UEFA have a strict application of the handball law which was the reason the penalty was given against Newcastle full-back Tino Livramento, who was judged to have handled the ball. It came after Alexander Isak had opened the scoring for the Magpies.
Ousmane Dembele’s cross hit Livramento’s body, and deflected onto his arm and, even though the ref initially waved away PSG’s appeals, Marciniak was called to the VAR screen and changed his decision to penalty. Kylian Mbappe made no mistake from 12 yards out.
Newcastle boss Eddie Howe was fuming afterward and slammed the decision for costing his team a huge result and an even bigger chance to qualify for the Champions League knockout stages. “I’m still coming to with it,” Howe told TNT Sports at full-time.
Howe added: “I didn’t think it was a penalty. What you don’t take into account with those replays is how quick the ball goes. It hits his chest first. If it hits his hands first, well it’s still not a penalty because he’s so close. But you can make more of a case.
“It’s not a penalty when it hits his chest first and then hits his hand which is low. I’m not allowed to sum it up. I can’t say my inner thoughts obviously [I’d get in trouble]. I thought the referee was having a good game up until this moment. He had been strong.”
Newcastle can still qualify if they beat AC Milan next month and hope PSG do not win at Borussia Dortmund. But victory would have left the final match round completely in their hands. UEFA’s Football Board did review the handball law in April when the Board recommended “greater clarity” especially when it came to the ball deflecting off a player’s body.
Their key recommendation said: “In their guidelines for the next season, the Board recommends that UEFA should clarify that no handball offence should be called on a player if the ball is previously deflected from his own body and, in particular, when the ball does not go towards the goal.”