Brazil came out on top in their heavyweight clash against Argentina in the Copa America semi-finals, booking their place in the final of the renowned competition on Tuesday morning, but it wasn't the game itself that stole the show.
In the past, Brazil's 2-0 win over Argentina in the semi-finals of the Copa America would have been seen as hard-fought victory, with hints of fortune along the way for the host nation. Gabriel Jesus finally scored his first ever competitive goal for Brazil, and his link-up play with Liverpool star, Roberto Firmino, helped the latter add to the scoring.
Whilst Argentina would have despised the result, they would have felt that they were simply unlucky with the result, after what was a good performance from a relatively young team, with Lautaro Martinez and Nicolas Tagliafico showing that Argentina have a good future.
However, VAR dominated the proceedings,
leading to Argentina and Barcelona star, Lionel Messi, to have an outburst in a post-match interview, slating Ecuadorian referee, Roddy Zambrano, and the lack of use of VAR when it was clearly necessary.
"There were two clear penalties that they didn't give us. For us, it was all cards and for them nothing. These are passages of play that going to unsettle you and take you out of the game. The referee was not fair," Messi said.
The two specific incidents that Messi refers to came in the last 20 minutes of the match. In the first instance, Aguero was taken out by Dani Alves in the box, yet the ball was cleared and and Gabriel Jesus burst forward to lay on a plate the second goal for Firmino. The question arises once the replays were shown, as on first glance the Dani Alves challenge did not seem to be a foul, but afterwards it was clear that there was contact on the Argentine, yet VAR was not consulted.
In the second incident, the contact was much clearer, as Nicolas Otamendi went in the box to meet a corner from the left-wing, but Arthur blocked his run by barging into him with his shoulder. As in the previous instance, the act did not seem extraordinary on first glance, but once replays were shown, it became clear that Arthur blatantly tried to block Otamendi's run by going straight into him, whilst also ensuring that heavy contact is made.
What is remarkable is that in the past, such errors of judgement from the officials would have gone unnoticed, or else the referees would be given the benefit of the doubt due to them only having a real-time view of the incident.
However, nowadays there is a completely new technology that is designed to correct such mistakes, but it seems to only highlight even more errors, as sometimes referees refuse to use VAR and to consult with other officials.
Despite the result, Messi acknowledged his teammates' efforts, claiming that it was their "best match" they played in the Copa America, "against a Brazil side that has spectacular players in all its lines."