VAR controversy marks Portugal's win in Nations League
PORTO, Portugal (AP) — It was a controversial debut for video review in a UEFA nations competition on Wednesday, with Portugal having a penalty nullified because of a disputed call awarded for Switzerland.
Portugal went on to win the Nations League match 3-1, making it to the final of the inaugural UEFA competition, but it had to overcome the decision that didn't go in its favor.
German referee Felix Brych didn't initially award the penalty for Switzerland after Steven Zuber was touched by Nelson Semedo inside the area in the 53rd minute at the Estadio do Dragao. He let play continue and Portugal quickly moved the ball the other way, and about 25 seconds later Brych called the penalty for Portugal when Bernardo Silva was fouled in the other box.
Swiss players were upset and called for him to check on the other play, which he immediately said he would do.
The contact between Semedo and Zuber appeared to be incidental, but Brych went to the VAR cabin and ended reversing the non-call, allowing Ricardo Rodriguez to convert the spot kick in the 57th to even the score at 1-1.
"I've never seen anything like that," Switzerland coach Vladimir Petkovic said. "It was a bit strange because the penalty wasn't that clear. The way it was handled wasn't entirely clear."
The VAR, which made its World Cup debut last year, had already been used by UEFA in the Champions League and other competitions, but never in a top nations tournament it organized.
"It looked like it was a penalty for us, but then it ended being for them," Portugal coach Fernando Santos said. "Apparently it shouldn't have been a penalty for them. I'll let others analyze what happened."
Brych was also involved in a controversial penalty call in the match between Switzerland and Serbia at the World Cup last year.