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Spurs defender Vertonghen: VAR will change the way we defend

PUBLISHED: 12:00 10 April 2019

Referee Bjorn Kuipers consults VAR before awarding Manchester City a penalty during the Champions League quarter-final, first leg match at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium (pic: Adam Davy/PA Images).

Referee Bjorn Kuipers consults VAR before awarding Manchester City a penalty during the Champions League quarter-final, first leg match at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium (pic: Adam Davy/PA Images).

PA Wire/PA Images

The Belgian discussed the decision to award Manchester City a penalty after Danny Rose blocked Raheem Sterling's shot with his hand

Tottenham Hotspur goalkeeper Hugo Lloris (right) is congratulated by Jan Vertonghen after saving a penalty from Manchester City's Sergio Aguero during the Champions League quarter-final first leg match at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium (pic: Adam Davy/PA Images).Tottenham Hotspur goalkeeper Hugo Lloris (right) is congratulated by Jan Vertonghen after saving a penalty from Manchester City's Sergio Aguero during the Champions League quarter-final first leg match at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium (pic: Adam Davy/PA Images).

Jan Vertonghen believes Video Assistant Referee (VAR) will change the art of defending after the penalty awarded against his Tottenham Hotspur team-mate Danny Rose during Tuesday’s Champions League quarter-final.

There seemed to be no issue when Rose threw himself in front of a shot from Manchester City’s Raheem Sterling in the 10th minute, blocking the effort.

But, after a video review that surprised almost everyone in the stadium, Rose was penalised for handball and a penalty was awarded - a spot-kick which Hugo Lloris saved as Spurs ultimately won the first leg 1-0 at their new stadium.

“No-one expected it,” said Vertonghen. “They (City’s players) didn’t even appeal for it so it was extremely weird to concede a penalty like this. That’s VAR.

“I think so many things look like penalties in slow motion. In the PSG-United game, everything looks like a penalty now.

“I think we have to change the way we defend. We’re not pulling people down but even a small touch, if you watch it 20 times in slow motion, they will give so many more penalties.

“I think you’ll see in the stats, in the next few years in the Premier League there’ll be at least 20, 30, 40 penalties more.

“Will we defenders need to stay on our feet more? Definitely, but I’m even talking more about defending corners or free kicks. You can’t even touch anyone. Before, it was quite physical and in a fair way. But now you’re too scared to get close to someone.

“We’ll all need to adapt - the players, the referees. I hope they (the referees) think as a player sometimes, because sometimes you can’t do anything else than put your body on the line.”

Tottenham Hotspur's Heung-min Son celebrates scoring his side's first goal of the game during the Champions League quarter-final, first leg match against Manchester City at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium (pic: Adam Davy/PA Images).Tottenham Hotspur's Heung-min Son celebrates scoring his side's first goal of the game during the Champions League quarter-final, first leg match against Manchester City at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium (pic: Adam Davy/PA Images).

While he has reservations about VAR, Vertonghen feels it will eventually prove useful.

“I’m not always a fan but at the end everyone will benefit from it,” he said. “It takes a lot away from the game I think, but in the end it will give you more.

“[Decisions] can happen for us as well. If we get a penalty in this way I’ll be very happy. But football is always a very emotional game and with VAR it changes a bit.”

Rose admits Tuesday’s VAR decision could influence his decision-making in future.

“It’s unnatural to try to defend a shot with your arms behind your back and I’m not sure that would be something the manager would be promoting,” he said. “There’s not much I can do but I have to learn from it.

“It did hit my arm. I didn’t think my arm was outside my body but the referee said it was. If VAR wasn’t there I would have got away with it but he’s given it and luckily Hugo’s got me out of trouble.

“I’m not sure I can complain. At the time I knew it hit my arm but it certainly wasn’t intentional.

“I was lucky Hugo saved [the penalty] because if Man City went 1-0 ahead after 13 minutes it would have made it a long, long evening for us.”

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