France Gets Big World Cup Assists From Video Review
Amandine Henry, France’s captain, missed a right-footed volley off a corner kick in the 17th minute. Gaëtane Thiney, France’s playmaking midfielder, had excellent chances inside the penalty area in the 59th and 66th minutes.
But V.A.R. would come to France’s rescue, and the first penalty kick was awarded after French forward Viviane Asseyi lunged for a cross inside Nigeria’s penalty area with defender Ngozi Ebere marking her tightly. There was contact, and Asseyi fell heavily and remained on the turf.
Borjas, the referee from Honduras, did not initially award a penalty kick, but replays clearly showed Ebere’s foot striking Asseyi’s leg from behind. When Borjas signaled for the penalty kick, Ebere and other Nigerian players argued at length, and Ebere was given her second yellow card of the match and ejected.
After Renard’s miss and the next V.A.R. review, the Nigerians protested again, but replays did show both of Nnadozie’s feet coming off the goal line before the shot. It was the second time a penalty kick had been retaken in this tournament for a goalkeeper infraction. It also happened during Italy’s 5-0 defeat of Jamaica in Group C.
“We weren’t surprised, in fact,” Thiney said. “We had a meeting before the World Cup with FIFA, and they explained to us all the new rules of the game, and they really insisted that the goalkeeper could get a yellow card and the penalty could be retaken if they don’t stay on their line. So when we saw the images, we knew exactly what was going on.”
Thiney and other French players said they had not noticed the infraction when they watched the penalty kick in real time. Nor did Borjas, but V.A.R. is allowing the rules of soccer to be enforced much more precisely. Too precisely?
“Look, there are rules, and you apply them,” Thiney said.
In this case, applying the letter of the law meant that Renard was able to return to the penalty stripe after being urged by her teammates to make a second attempt.