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2022 World Cup VAR review: Should Canada have had three penalties vs. Belgium?

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Did VAR make the right decisions in Belgium vs. Canada? (1:10)

Dale Johnson discusses the three big VAR talking points from the first half between Belgium and Canada. (1:10)

We're analysing every VAR decision made throughout all 64 games at the 2022 World Cup. Find out why Canada got only one of three possible VAR penalties against Belgium.

After each game, we take a look at the major incidents to examine and explain the process in terms of VAR protocol and the Laws of the Game.

- World Cup VAR review in full: Every decision analysed

Belgium 1-0 Canada

VAR overturn: Penalty for handball by Carrasco

What happened: Tajon Buchanan's shot in the eighth minute was blocked by Yannick Carrasco. The Canada player appealed for a penalty straight away, but the game continued.

VAR decision: Penalty, missed by Alphonso Davies.

VAR review: A simple decision for the VAR, Juan Soto of Venezuela.

Carrasco's arm was away from his body and had created a barrier to goal, and in the modern game this kind of incident is awarded as a handball.

The Belgium player was booked, with the offence being an automatic caution.


Possible penalty: Foul by Vertonghen on Buchanan

What happened: In the 13th minute, Buchanan went down inside the area after a challenge from Jan Vertonghen, but the flag went up for offside.

VAR decision: No penalty.

VAR review: A strange situation, because the assistant got the offside completely wrong. The ball was actually passed back towards his own goal by Eden Hazard, not by a Canada player, so there was no possible offside offence. However, the possible foul by Vertonghen happened before Zambian referee Janny Sikazwe blew his whistle to stop play, so a VAR review for a penalty was still possible.

A replay showed that Vertonghen got a toe to the ball before he caught Buchanan, which is absolutely crucial in determining whether the decision goes to a VAR review. Without that touch, the offside would have been cancelled and a penalty awarded to Canada.

If Vertonghen's challenge had been more reckless, or with force, that could have overridden the touch on the ball and led to a VAR review.


Possible penalty: Foul by Witsel on Laryea

What happened: Shortly before half-time, Richie Laryea broke into the area when running side-by-side with Belgium's Axel Witsel and went down claiming for a penalty.

VAR decision: No penalty.

VAR review: The kind of decision best left to the on-field referee rather than the VAR.

Although there certainly is contact by Witsel on Laryea, it's not through making a challenge. That doesn't rule out the possibility of a penalty, but it wouldn't be seen as a clear and obvious error by the referee not to award one with the players running alongside each other.

There is also a question of Laryea placing his leg into the path of Witsel to draw the contact. This isn't really initiating contact, however, so if the referee had given the spot kick it would not have been overturned.

That said, penalties earlier in the tournament appear to have come from a VAR review with less contact, so Canada may feel aggrieved.