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VAR is changing spirit of football: Pochettino

Spurs boss uneasy with video ref system which will be used in EPL next season

Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino fears the "spirit of football" is being changed by video assistant referee (VAR) after his side fell victim to technology yesterday morning (Singapore time).

As it turned out, the penalty awarded by VAR against Danny Rose for handball was missed by Sergio Aguero and Tottenham went on to earn a crucial 1-0 win in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final at their new ground.

South Korean forward Son Heung Min cut in from the byeline in the 78th minute and fired a shot past Ederson to give Tottenham a slender advantage to protect at the Etihad next week, the second of three games in 10 days between the two clubs.

Pochettino, who has challenged his side to finish the job, could not hide his unease with the VAR, which will be rolled out in next season's English Premier League.

While a sliding Rose's arm did make contact with the ball as he attempted to block Raheem Sterling's shot, no City player appealed for a penalty - evidence in itself that the decision was the kind of marginal one that could be debated all night.

Pochettino himself said in the letter of the law it could possibly have been a penalty, but rules on what constitutes handball appear open to interpretation.

As it stands in the International Football Association Board (Ifab) rulebook, a player can be penalised for handball if their arms extend "beyond a natural silhouette" - even if accidental.

Manchester United beat Paris St Germain thanks to a late VAR penalty this season after Diogo Dalot's shot struck Presnel Kimpembe on the arm and went over the crossbar - a decision Neymar branded a "disgrace".

Pochettino was more measured, perhaps as the penalty was saved by Hugo Lloris, but still raised concerns that there are too many grey areas in deciding on handball.

"There's a lot of work to do with VAR," he said. "We know there are many decisions that no one knows if VAR is going to be used or not, to check or not.

"Maybe technically it was a penalty because it was handball, but we do not know the protocol. There are a lot of question marks and a lot of work to do.

"I think it's going to change the spirit of the game and I'm very worried about how it's going to work next season...

"We are going to see a different sport, not the football we grew up watching, that's for sure."

Meanwhile, Pochettino has a more immediate issue to worry about. Harry Kane's season could be over.


The England striker, who has scored 24 goals this season, rolled his left ankle painfully just before the hour mark after a hefty tackle on City defender Fabian Delph.

He is a major doubt for next week's return leg and could even miss the rest of the season, having already had a lengthy spell on the sidelines with an injury to the same ankle in January when he damaged ligaments.

"We are going to miss him, " said Pochettino. "Maybe for the rest of the season, and we are worried about that. He doesn't have much time to recover.. it doesn't look good." - REUTERS

SPURS: Lloris, Trippier, Alderweireld, Vertonghen, Rose, Sissoko, Winks (Wanyama 81), Alli (Llorente 87) , Eriksen, Son, Kane (Moura 58)

MAN CITY: Ederson, Walker, Otamendi, Laporte, Delph, Guendogan, Fernandinho, D. Silva (de Bruyne 89), Mahrez (Sane 89), Aguero (Jesus 71), Sterling