Sheffield United: Former top referee Keith Hackett praises 'very good use of VAR' as Newcastle United score controversial second goal at Bramall Lane

Former top referee Keith Hackett has praised 'very good use of VAR' after Newcastle United scored a controversial second goal against Sheffield United at Bramall Lane tonight.

Thursday, 5th December 2019, 11:00 pm

The flashpoint of the game came in the second half, when Andy Carroll flicked a ball onto the onrushing Jonjo Shelvey and the linesman raised his flag for offside.

That caused the entire United defence, and goalkeeper Dean Henderson, to stop completely as Shelvey scored, before ref Stuart Attwell referred the goal to VAR.

That confirmed that Carroll was onside – and that the flag was incorrectly raised – and so the goal stood, to a chorus of loud boos from the home ends of Bramall Lane.

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Even the Newcastle fans and players reacted in surprise when Attwell pointed to the penalty spot to award the goal.

But Keith Hackett, the Sheffield-born referee who was elected to the Fifa list and refereed the 1981 FA Cup final, praised the use of VAR.

“Very good use of VAR at Bramall Lane,” the Sheffield Wednesday fan wrote on Twitter.

“Asst [sic] raises his flag and that may have impacted on Sheff Utd defenders. Play to the whistle the player WAS onside.”

Dean Henderson of Sheffield United remonstrates with referee Stuart Attwell after VAR awarded Newcastle United a second goal during the Premier League match at Bramall Lane, Sheffield. Picture date: 5th December 2019. Picture credit should read: James Wilson/Sportimage

On Attwell’s performance generally, Hackett added: [He] needs to work on gaining greater authority when he officiates.

“Manage stoppages more effectively. Reduce the chat. Referees do not have to explain every decision.

“Give the free-kicks immediately you see them. He is very fit but needs to squeeze play more.”