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Antonio Conte’s fury as Tottenham are denied last gasp Champions League winner

“I repeat this unfair decision because the ball is in front of Kane”

Tottenham Hotspur's Harry Kane celebrates scoring a goal before it is later disallowed by VAR during the UEFA Champions League group D match at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, London. Picture date: Wednesday October 26, 2022.© PA

George SessionsPA Media

Tottenham boss Antonio Conte was angry at the decision by VAR to rule out Harry Kane’s stoppage-time strike against Sporting Lisbon and accused the technology of being dishonest against his team.

Kane fired home in the fifth minute of added time to spark wild celebrations with the hosts believing the effort had sent them through to the last 16 of the Champions League.

Dutch official Pol van Boekel, who was in charge of VAR, ruled Kane had been ahead of the ball when Emerson Royal’s header hit Flavio Nazinho and ricocheted into the path of the striker, who smashed in with aplomb to briefly make the score 2-1.

Sporting players and staff celebrated the decision to rule out the goal, which meant Marcus Edwards’ first-half strike – cancelled out by Rodrigo Bentancur’s 81st-minute header – left all four teams in Group D with a chance of making the knockout stage going into the last game.

“I think there are moments that maybe you can be a bit intelligent to understand you have just disallowed a regular goal because the goal was regular. The ball is in front of Kane,” Conte insisted in his press conference before he walked out after one question.

“And then the VAR. I repeat, you know I don’t comment on referee decisions but the VAR, this season, I don’t know why between Premier League and Champions League, we are not so lucky.

“I don’t know why until now we are also the only team who repeated the penalty and every penalty I go to see, if the keeper move on line, I see a lot of the time. I want to see repetition of a penalty in Premier League.

“I think we are not so lucky with VAR but I think they create big damage. I would like to see if this type of decision you can take with a top team, in an important game, yeah I would like to see if VAR is so brave to take this decision.

“I repeat this unfair decision because the ball is in front of Kane. Sorry, but I am really upset because sometimes you can accept this situation and sometimes I think it is not good because I don’t see honesty in this type of situation and when I see this I become really, really upset.”

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Away from the dramatic finale, it was another match where Tottenham had failed to put together a complete 90-minute display with Edwards giving the visitors a deserved half-time lead.

The ex-Spurs youth-team player raced past Eric Dier and exchanged passes with Paulinho before he rifled into the bottom corner from 25 yards after 22 minutes.

Conte’s side improved after the break with Dier failing to make the most of three opportunities while Matt Doherty and Son Heung-min tested Antonio Adan.

But Sporting also had their chances with substitute Arthur Gomes firing wide with the majority of the goal gaping minutes before Bentancur headed home Ivan Perisic’s corner.

It means Tottenham need a point at Marseille on Tuesday to qualify for the last 16 and Conte called on the club to speak to the relevant people over the VAR decision.

He added: “For the game we played first half with low intensity and Sporting deserve to stay 1-0 up and at the end of the game after our second half I think we deserved to get three points.

“Now for this decision we have to wait to the last game against Marseille and I repeat this decision, yeah it creates big damage.

“I hope the club understands this and then in the right situation they also speak with the people they have to speak because otherwise it is only the manager to speak.

“I think the club has to be strong because I repeat this situation creates big, big damage. Now we don’t know what happen next week. If we go out, then I want to see.”

Sporting boss Ruben Amorim had been crestfallen after watching Kane fire home but after VAR had intervened he stuck up for the technology.

“I like it because it is fair, most of the time,” he said.

“I know there are a lot of problems sometimes because they are hard decisions but like I said I didn’t see the footage. For me it was very good. For Antonio Conte it was not very good but it is football and it is good to improve football. For the fans, it is sometimes not so good but I think it is fair.”


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