Football News

Marcus Edwards comes back to haunt Tottenham but VAR leaves Conte’s men scratching their heads

By Harry Edwards

Published: 22:50, 26 October 2022

Marcus Edwards showed Tottenham Hotspur what they were missing out on as he scored in Sporting CP’s 1-1 draw in north London on Wednesday night.

Although they are still top of Group D, Tottenham’s Champions League future remains very much in the balance, not yet qualified for the last 16 and still able to finish bottom. A draw against Marseille next week will be enough to do it, but Tottenham have proven that they can give opponents opportunities for an upset.

Having lost the reverse fixture 2-0 last month, Tottenham will have known what Sporting were capable of, the only defeat they have tasted in the Champions League this season. And having seen Edwards grown in their own academy, they should have been aware of the danger he could pose towards their defence.

But midway through the first half they stood off the Englishman and allowed him to shoot from outside the area, with Edwards drilling his shot low into the bottom left corner. Question marks will be asked of Hugo Lloris for his part in the goal, but Tottenham’s outfield players must also take their portion of the blame.

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While some players may choose not to celebrate against their former clubs, Edwards showed exactly what his strike meant to him as he looks to lead Sporting CP to the knockout stages of the Champions League. Edwards also became the fourth Englishman to score against an English club in the Champions League while playing for a foreign team, after Patrick Roberts vs Manchester City, Fikayo Tomori vs Liverpool and Jude Bellingham against Man City (twice).

“Crazy for me,” Edwards said of his goal.

“It’s crazy, all my family and friends are here supporting me. I wasn’t going to celebrate but I was too happy. I can’t put it into words.”

As well as conceding to their former man, the first half was one to forget for Tottenham as they failed to score yet again. They have now failed to score a first-half goal in four of their five Champions League games this season, with only FC Copenhagen (five) having a worse first-half record.

For a while it looked as though Edwards’ goal would be enough for Sporting, but Rodrigo Bentancur pulled Tottenham level which keeps them top of the group going into the final matchday. It could have been even better for Tottenham too, and they thought it was, when Harry Kane fired in from close range in the dying stages of injury time but that only kicked off chaos that only the Champions League could provide.

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After almost four minutes of consultation, the goal was ruled out by VAR for offside against Kane from Emerson’s header down. Although the ball went backwards and rebounded off a defender, the direction of the ball does not matter in offsides, and Kane was deemed to be in an offside position.

The decision brought boos from the Tottenham fans at the full-time whistle and in the immediate aftermath of the goal being ruled out Antonio Conte was sent off for “foul and abusive language” towards the officials.

“Yeah, of course we thought we’d won it, the way we celebrated. We thought we’d won it … I don’t really know what happened at the end,” Matt Doherty told BT Sport.

“I thought it went backwards and then hit a defender … I’m going to have to look at the rule, because there’s a few of us in there who don’t have a clue what happened.

“We didn’t play that well .. they nullified us quite well in the first half … it’s still in our hands, it’s not how we wanted the night to go, but it’s still in our hands.”

Conte went even further, dubbing the decision an injustice: “I think the ball was in front of Kane and the goal is a goal. Yeah. I don’t understand the line they put. It very difficult to comment on this decision.

“VAR is doing a lot of damage. I want to see if in another stadium of a big team if they are ready to disallow this type of goal. I’d like to know this.

“A lot of injustice. I don’t like this type of situation. I see not positive things.”