The company responsible for the ‘wobbly line’ that caused confusion during Manchester United‘s debut using the controversial video assistant referee (VAR) system has apologised for a technical error.
However, after a lengthy delay, referee Kevin Friend disallowed the goal for offside on the recommendation of the video official, located in a studio in London nearly 200 miles away.
Yet the lines used to determine whether Mata had been standing in an offside position showed up on television footage as anything but straight, leading many viewers to think a decision had been using inexact information.
However, Hawk-Eye – the company behind the system – insisted they had given the correct information to the VAR if not broadcaster BT Sport during a match United eventually won 2-0 thanks to Lukaku’s second goal.
“A technical issue led to an incorrect graphic being provided by Hawk-Eye to BT Sport last night,” said a company statement issued Sunday.
“To confirm, the VAR saw the correct image with the correct lines to make the decision. This was a case of the wrong image being provided to the broadcaster and we apologise.”
United manager Jose Mourinho, speaking after Saturday’s match, said: “I think our game is so beautiful that to change we have to change for the better.
“If they find a way in the VAR that the VAR is always right and always bring the truth, I’m happy.”
Jose Mourinho was bemused by the video assistant referee’s controversial intervention as Manchester United secured safe passage to the FA Cup quarter-finals at Huddersfield.
Romelu Lukaku netted early in both halves at the John Smith’s Stadium to secure the visitors a 2-0 win on a night when technological teething problems reared their head once more.
Juan Mata wheeled off in celebration after netting from an acute angle just before half-time, only for referee Kevin Friend to eventually chalk the goal off as the narrowest of offsides was revisited.
United boss Mourinho is happy to see technology utilised and pointed to its relative success in Portugal, but felt it was wrong for video review assistant Neil Swarbrick to get involved given it was not a clear and obvious error.
“It is amazing when the truth comes,” the United manager said.
“But also (there are) problems and one of the problems is exactly what happened today, which goes a little bit against the words of the protocol.
“The words of the protocol are something like a clear and obvious situation and for sure it was not a clear and obvious situation.
“But we know that it is experimental, and we have to accept. But I am speaking after a 2-0 victory.”
Mourinho laughed so was then asked whether his view would be different had it cost United.
“I am close to winning the best-behaved manager in the Premier League, so nothing that can make me lose that trophy this season,” he said, smiling once more.
“The feeling is a bit strange and I was sharing it with David (Wagner, the Huddersfield boss) on the touchline and (fourth official) Anthony Taylor, which is the moment of the doubt.
“We score a goal, I cannot be happy.
“David concedes a goal but he doesn’t know if he goes to half-time with 2-0 or 1-0, and it takes time and then the decision comes.
“So, we have to adapt to that waiting time and cope with the frustration when that decision goes against you.
“At half-time I had to say 20 times to my analysts and assistants to shut up because I don’t want the players to know what happened.
“I want the players to feel, ‘Yes, it is offside and to move on’, without being sad or unhappy.
“‘Shut up, we have to move on’, but one day it will go in our favour.”
United midfielder Mata said it was a “very tight” decision, but was philosophical about the decision, whereas Huddersfield boss Wagner is not a fan of VAR at all.
“The emotion was killed,” the Huddersfield boss said.
“I said this immediately to Jose during the incident that, ‘Whatever will now be decided, whether this decision goes in our favour or not, I don’t like this’, and I’ve said this before.
“The emotion is killed, the emotion in the stadium in the stands, for us managers in the dugout. This is why I don’t like this system. Maybe I am too traditional.”
Wagner’s side put up an impressive first-half fight before Lukaku ended the tie clinically, with United’s reward a quarter-final against Brighton at Old Trafford.
“I am happy that we are in the quarter-final,” Mourinho added.
“I am happy we won a match, especially after the defeat (at Newcastle last weekend).
“It was the kind of game where a draw would not be a drama to take the match to Old Trafford, but the game was difficult.
“I think they had a different approach to what they had in the Premier League.”
Romelu Lukaku bagged a brace as Manchester United beat Huddersfield 2-0 to advance to the quarter-finals of the FA Cup, but Jose Mourinho’s side had to claw their way to victory against the dogged Terriers.
And Lukaku was let off the leash as the Red Devils roared into the last eight with a second 2-0 win over David Wagner’s side in two weeks after the Premier League encounter on February 3.
The burly Belgium forward raced onto Juan Mata’s through pass and showed power and poise to sweep in the opener after just three minutes, while Mata saw a goal bizarrely chalked off on the brink of half-time by a controversial VAR decision.
Alexis Sanchez teed up Lukaku in the second half for another run in on goal as he finished with aplomb for the second time, with the determined Terriers simply unable to trouble United stopper Sergio Romero.
Here, we rate the United side after their 2-0 win.
Sergio Romero 6 – Most understudies are prone to nerves and errors but the Argentine has rarely put a foot or glove wrong when stepping in for David De Gea. And even though United’s defence was under pressure, he had a fairly quiet evening.
Ashley Young 6 – Switched to right-back with Antonio Valencia rested and as usual he didn’t let his side down. Was unfortunate not to add an assist to his diligent defensive work as Mata’s goal was questionably ruled out.
Victor Lindelof 7 – Has strangely not been involved of late despite coming into form around Christmas time. A lot of long balls came his way but he dealt with the home side’s physical threats well as United halted Huddersfield’s attacks.
Chris Smalling 6 – Has been made the scapegoat for United’s 1-0 defeat at St James’ Park and you might have expected him to be left out here. But Jose Mourinho thrust him back into the spotlight and the England man put in an accomplished performance.
Luke Shaw 7 – For a man whose Old Trafford career appeared over a matter of months ago, Shaw continues to look something approaching the player who United first signed from Southampton. Looks lean and fit and bombed forward to get involved in attacks.
Scott McTominay 6 – Continues to grow in stature with every game he features in. Was on the receiving end of some crude tackles in the league game at the start of the month and maybe had that in the back of his head here as he played with a brash physicality.
Michael Carrick 6 – The anchorman is retiring in the summer and how United will miss his metronomic passing. Not a flashy player but does the simple things so well. Although he hasn’t had much part to play this season, Mourinho must be keenly looking for a replacement.
Nemanja Matic 6 – Has looked tired of late so it was again a surprise he wasn’t rested, but he’s been a welcome addition to the United ranks. Pushed further forward as Carrick sat deeper and was able to break up Huddersfield attacks and help launch United counters.
Juan Mata 8 – Has had his detractors this season but was busy and nimble in attack, releasing Lukaku early on to give United the advantage and should have had a goal to show for his efforts. Was the fulcrum of everything good in attack for his side and put in a real shift.
Romelu Lukaku 8 – Put his side in front in fine fashion, latching onto Mata’s insightful through ball before stopping, turning his defender powerfully and finishing calmly on his weaker right foot. His second finish was similarly calm and composed, something we’ve not seen much of this year.
Alexis Sanchez 7 – Lively throughout but was shackled somewhat in a first half dominated by the hosts. He really came to life in the second half as the game opened up and the hosts tired. Helped killed the game with an assist for Lukaku’s second.
Anthony Martial 6 – On for Sanchez with 15 minutes to go to help further weaken the tiring Terriers.
Jesse Lingard N/A – Came on inside the final 10 minutes with little time to affect the game.
Eric Bailly N/A – Was brought on in the last minute for Lukaku but his return is encouraging.