The English Premier League returned to action on Wednesday but an unprecedented issue with goal-line technology rocked the clash between Aston Villa and Sheffield United.
High-flying newcomers Sheffield United returned against a relegation battling Villa outfit, but barely 40 minutes into the match an unprecedented goal-line technology fail had fans gobsmacked.
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Oliver Norwood's free kick late in the first half seemed to have been carried well over the line by home keeper Orjan Nyland, under pressure from Keinan Davis.
But referee Michael Oliver's goal-line technology watch did not signal a goal and the video assistant referee did not overrule what seemed a clear mistake.
Despite no overrule, replays showed the ball clearly crossed the line and should have been awarded,
In a statement on Twitter, Hawk-Eye Innovations said the match officials had not received a signal to their watch or earpiece and that the seven cameras in the stadium "were significantly occluded by the goalkeeper, defender and goalpost".
“This level of occlusion has never been seen in 9,000 matches that the Hawk-Eye Goal Line Technology system has been in operation,” the statement added.
"Hawk-Eye unreservedly apologises to the Premier League, Sheffield United and everyone affected by this incident."
Fans were bewildered to how the goal wasn’t awarded after watching replays.
Even goal line technology is debatable these days. Strange times.— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) June 17, 2020
The last thing we need in 2020 is for goalline technology to fail us.#AVLSHU— Dr Rosena Allin-Khan (@DrRosena) June 17, 2020
So we have Goal line technology AND VAR but apparently this is not a goal.— Footy Humour (@FootyHumour) June 17, 2020
2020 is officially fu*ked up. 😂 pic.twitter.com/GK4hGj3AXC
The free-kick taker, Norwood, couldn’t work out why the video assistant referee didn’t award the goal.
“What’s VAR for? Surely they can look at that and say it’s a goal, it’s like someone is scared to make a decision,” he said in a post-match interview.
The apology didn't appease Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder.
"My issue is obviously one of frustration," he said.
“What’s VAR for? Surely they can look at that and say it’s a goal, it’s like someone is scared to make a decision”— Sheffield United (@SheffieldUnited) June 17, 2020
Ollie Norwood speaks to SUTV 👇 pic.twitter.com/i9h3Hb7pS6
"Seven cameras haven't picked it up - the most technical league in the world - everything we see at every angle and it hasn't seen a goal. That is disappointing from our point of view.
"The statement has come out and it is unprecedented, unbelievable."
Villa remain second-bottom, one point and two places from safety, while the visitors are one point behind fifth-placed Manchester United.
Man City sweep aside Arsenal
Manchester City beat Arsenal 3-0 on Wednesday as the Premier League returned to action after 100 days away because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Raheem Sterling put City in front, Kevin de Bruyne scored the second with a penalty and Phil Foden added a third in injury-time.
David Luiz, who was at fault for the first goal, was sent off for conceding the penalty.
City's win reduced the gap between themselves and runaway leaders Liverpool to 22 points, meaning Juergen Klopp's side need two wins to secure their first title since 1990.
Arsenal's night began badly with injuries to Grant Xhaka and Pablo Mari and got worse when Luiz, who replaced Mari, miscontrolled a De Bruyne cross, allowing Sterling to smash in the opening goal on the stroke of half-time.
And Luiz then compounded matters early in the second half when he pulled back Riyad Mahrez to concede a penalty and collect a red card.
De Bruyne sent Arsenal goalkeeper Bernd Leno the wrong way to double City's lead and Foden added the third late on after Sergio Aguero's shot was turned onto the post by Leno.
The only downside for City was an injury to Eric Garcia, who was taken off on a stretcher after colliding with Ederson.
City and Arsenal had begun the match in the same way as Villa and Sheffield United, with all players, management and officials 'taking a knee' in recognition of the Black Lives Matter movement.
All the players had Black Lives Matter on the back of their shirts.