Coventry fans furious as VAR decision robs FA Cup of historic. . .
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Coventry fans furious as VAR decision robs FA Cup of historic moment.

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Mark Robins thinks the Stockley Park verdict ‘crazy’, arguing Victor Torp was just a toenail offside, but finds solace in a superb display.

Coventry City’s anguish at losing one of the most gripping FA Cup semi-finals was compounded by fury after their 121st-minute “winner” was ruled out by VAR. “A toenail offside,” joked manager Mark Robins. “It’s ridiculous” .

It could have been less than a toenail. According to the photos, Haji Wright was right in front of Aaron Wan-Bissaka when he ran to set up Victor Torp. Even on replays, it appeared to the naked eye that he was onside, as ITV co-commentator Lee Dixon had predicted.

Coventry had pulled out the largest FA Cup comeback in 1 minute and 51 seconds. After trailing by three goals after an hour, they forced extra time with goals from Ellis Simms, Callum O’Hare, and a penalty from Haji Wright. Torp’s goal had sent them to the final against Manchester City before the cruelest of VAR decisions.

Even when Dixon saw it was offside, he believed it should be given. “Do you believe this game? It appeared to be really tight. Simply give him the benefit of the doubt, why not? But the tiny red line is simply the incorrect side of the blue one.”

When the draw proceeded to penalties, United triumphed because O’Hare’s spot kick was saved and Ben Sheaf missed.

“I’m bitterly disappointed,” Robins stated. “I am proud as well. Someone once told me that no team has ever been this close to a final without making it. We deserved to go through; we were 20 seconds away and a toe offside. These lines are the bane of our existence.

“It took ages. The fourth official stated that there was nothing wrong with it initially. A toenail is offside. Disappointed, but we must be very proud. After the dust settles, many people will discuss about the game for a long time.

Given the close margins, Wright could have been called onside if the pass had been made milliseconds later. Wan-Bissaka was in the middle of a step towards his own goal when the pass came in.

“He has not finished his second stride,” ITV pundit Ian Wright stated. “If he completes his second step, it may not be offside. These are the margins. It’s unfortunate since it’s so tight.”

Robins believes that the momentum gained by his squad was returned to United when the goal was disallowed. “The mentality shifts when you’re close to winning and then lose. It puts you on the back foot heading into the penalty shootout. “30 seconds later, you’re in a shootout,” he explained. “I do not blame anyone for missing. It’s what it is. We’ll have to improve at them.”

Coventry still outmatched United and looked better than their eighth-place finish in the Championship. Players like Simms, who signed from Everton in the summer and has 19 goals, improved their reputations and remained on the field when United left.

“It hurts a lot, especially coming back from 3-0 down and having the potential to win in extra time,” Simms said. “To lose on penalties is heartbreaking because it could go either way.

“In the second half of extra time, I believed we had fantastic chances. I had one tipped over the bar, and the VAR rejected the goal. We had the energy that the supporters provided us. We were unlucky, but it was not our day to receive it. I am proud of the men.

Robins’ message to his players in the dressing room is that, while they have a Championship game against Hull on Wednesday, they have also played a role in one of the great FA Cup matches.

“We just told them that they have cemented their place in the football club’s history. People will discuss this game for a long time. Coventry City supporters will talk about it, but so will neutrals.

 

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