The World Cup took just minutes to be thrown into controversy after the first goal of the opener between hosts Qatar and Ecuador was overturned by VAR due to a ruling of offside.
It took barely three minutes for the men in yellow to find the back of the net, courtesy of a header from Ecuador captain Enner Valencia.
But as Ecuador was celebrating what would have been the fastest goal in a World Cup opener, the goal was reviewed and eventually disallowed.
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An angled cross came in to Ecuador’s Felix Torres, who leapt to challenge Qatar keeper Saad al Sheeb. He headed the ball towards Estrada, whose mistimed scissor kick was headed by Valencia.
A graphic beamed on the broadcast some 10 minutes later showed the lower part of Estrada’s leg – who was last to touch the ball before it was headed into the back of the net by Valencia – was in front of the second-last defender when Torres headed it.
“Well there’s a bit of controversy – no goal for Enner Valencia, no goal for Ecuador,” legendary commentator Clive Tyldesley said.
“Offside is the decision … there we see the offside, it’s certainly not apparent to the scorer. We haven’t had the storming start that looked legitimate to the naked eye.”
Former Premier League player-turned-pundit Alan Shearer said fans across the world would be outraged.
“I don’t think there’s any person watching this in the world who thinks that this is offside,” he said on the BBC.
“I’m going to have a blooming high blood pressure by the end of the month if this carries on this way.”
A short time later, Valencia found the back of the net from the penalty spot, marking the first time the opening World Cup goal had come from a penalty.
There was also some confusion as to why the offside goal was overturned because there was a Qatari defender clearly behind the ball. But because the goalkeeper was ahead of the ball, the last defender effectively assumes the role of the goalkeeper.
In a World Cup first, the decision also involved the use of new semi-automated technology introduced to assist in making offside decisions.
The technology uses 12 tracking cameras under the stadium’s roof to track not only the ball but up to 29 data points on each player, including limbs.
When a player receives the ball in an offside position, the technology alerts officials, who are still required to manually validate the technology’s decision and make the call.
Ecuador won the tournament opening clash against the host nation 2-0, the first time in 92 years that the host had lost the opening game.
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