Victory win as coaches lament VAR delays

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Melbourne Victory coach Tony Popovic and Wellington counterpart Ufuk Talay have lamented the delays associated with VAR referrals in the A-League Men after Victory's 3-1 win was overshadowed by two lengthy reviews.

Victory's hopes of a late run to the A-League Men premiership remain alive as they leapt into second place, a point above Western United and one behind leaders Melbourne City, who each have a game in hand.

In the teeming rain at AAMI Park on Friday, Victory led via Nick D'Agostino's second-minute goal when Wellington had a free kick correctly and quickly upgraded to a penalty after VAR determined Josh Brillante had handballed inside, rather than outside, the area.

Then, close to 12 minutes' worth of VAR-related delays on decisions for two goals dominated the game.

Ivan Kelava saved Reno Piscopo's 20th-minute penalty but shortly after, Leigh Broxham caught Piscopo in the face with his elbow as he jumped for a clearing header.

After a five-minute delay, between Piscopo receiving treatment and consulting VAR Chris Beath, referee Shaun Evans again pointed to the spot, with Gael Sandoval burying the equaliser.

But more farcical was a seven-minute review after Victory appeared to regain the lead through D'Agostino in the 61st minute.

Evans assessed whether Rai Marchan had fouled Ben Old in the lead-up, which chalked off the goal.

As the delay continued, VAR showed Evans had earlier missed Louis Fenton's handball in the area from Jason Davidson's cross.

As a result, the ball was brought back to the penalty spot, with Brimmer coolly converting.

"It is frustrating for the amount of time it takes because, unfortunately, it builds anxiety and frustration amongst the players," Popovic said.

"You can see there's more anger amongst the players because of these moments that last for so long.

"So make the decision, make it quickly and move on. I've always maintained that. We've seen this has happened before here with Melbourne City and Central Coast, it took forever.

"If we can fix that, then that will obviously help the situation."

Popovic also noted players could cool down in such a long delay and could struggle to "regain composure" and rhythm.

Talay said referees were using VAR as a "safety net" and hoped to see quicker decisions made.

"The referees are heavily reliant on VAR to make sure that they don't miss anything," he said.

"They should make the call that they see on the park and live with the decision but unfortunately we've got VAR that will pull it back up, whether they've made the right or wrong decision.

"The referees are using it very much so as a safety net for them."

Victory wrapped up three points in the 78th minute when Davidson lifted a lovely ball to the back post where an unmarked Rojas headed home.

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