Two VAR hits leaves Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhuttl on his knees as Aston Villa survive technology luck to beat Saints
- Southampton felt aggrieved after VAR denied them a victory over Aston Villa
- VAR failed to give them a first-half penalty after Matty Cash appeared to handle
- Danny Ings’ late strike was ruled out by technology for a marginal offside
- Villa went on to win 1-0 on Saturday night with Ralph Hasenhuttl furious
Never one for a quiet walk on the touchline, Ralph Hasenhuttl had a good scream after another death by a thousand pixels on Saturday night.
‘That’s impossible,’ he yelled, and yes, it can seem that way with VAR. He had just watched Danny Ings’ stoppage-time equaliser against Aston Villa ruled out because the lower end of his sleeve was offside, with VAR Mike Dean supporting the instinct of the assistant, Simon Long.
That one stung, as did the earlier call from Stockley Park to deny Southampton a penalty because the ball had brushed Matty Cash’s thigh before hitting his hand.
Ralph Hasenhuttl was left aggrieved as he felt VAR cost his side three points against Aston Villa
VAR failed to give a penalty after Matty Cash (middle) appeared to handle inside the Villa area
By the letter of the law, both calls were right; in the more emotive realms of football, the recurring question is how it ever came to this.
None of which helps Southampton, who have lost three in a row in the league. A fine campaign has hit a rocky patch amid a build-up of injuries, though it would be unkind to rule too harshly on the latest loss, which came in a game they dominated. Ross Barkley scored one of eight Villa chances; Southampton had 20 and converted none.
So long as they are creating, it is safe to assume they will recover, but that depends too on better finishing. That would include Ings, who is yet to resume the excellent form he showed prior to injury in November.
The Saints then had a goal disallowed for a marginal Danny Ings offside call at St Mary’s
Ross Barkley scored the winning goal as Villa ran out 1-0 victors over a furious Southampton
‘We are trying to gain momentum, gain points,’ said Stuart Armstrong. ‘To not get the big decisions has a big impact on the game at difficult times.
‘We need to pick ourselves up for going away (to Manchester United) on Tuesday. We need to put in a fighting performance but we always have belief against the so-called bigger teams.’
Jack Grealish drew further credit for his ninth assist of the season on the Saturday but equally the win owed much to Villa goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez, who kept his 10th clean sheet of the season after joining from Arsenal.
His save from Che Adams in a one-on-one was particularly important. ‘He has probably exceeded what I thought he would bring to the team in terms of his calmness and personality,’ said manager Dean Smith.