Everton boss Sean Dyche fumed at the decision to rule out Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s 51st-minute goal in their 2-1 Premier League loss at Tottenham.
Spurs were two up inside 18 minutes after close-range finishes by Richarlison and Son Heung-min but were not at their best and could have conceded at the start of the second half.
Calvert-Lewin rifled home after Andre Gomes had won back possession from Emerson Royal, but VAR Michael Oliver told referee Stuart Attwell to review the incident and he disallowed the strike after Gomes was adjudged to have caught the Tottenham full-back on his ankle.
More drama was to follow as Gomes eventually reduced the deficit in the 82nd minute before substitute Arnaut Danjuma hit the crossbar in the dying seconds, with goalkeeper Guglielmo Vicario clearing the loose ball from on the goal line.
Dyche said: “It is unfortunate I have to start with that because I thought we were excellent, but I will go back to that. I am a big fan of VAR, but I don’t know where that one lives today.
“I think VAR has over-reffed the moment, where the referee and the linesman have amazing views. They have clearly made a decision. All their experience and years of doing it goes out the window because they’ll find contact.
“They are going to find contact, they find contact with virtually everything.
“I’m a big fan of VAR, but it can’t be refereeing every moment.
“There are so many soft things in football now. Every touch is nearly a foul or is a foul, but that’s not enough for me.
“That’s where you’ve got to go, ‘No, that’s not enough contact’ to make a mature, professional footballer (go down).
“That’s where I think the game has got to be really careful.”
Asked if VAR had helped out his side, Spurs head coach Ange Postecoglou said: “Why would it help us out? It was a foul.
“It didn’t help us out. I don’t like VAR. That’s part of the problem, people use that kind of terminology, that it helps or it goes against.
“It’s a tool, it’s used, I still don’t like it. Did it help us? I don’t know if it helped us. If that goal stood, we might have scored a third. That’s the beauty of football.
“I’ve already said I don’t like the way VAR is being used, I didn’t like the way it was used today. I thought it was a foul, yeah, but the referee missed it and probably missed another foul as well. That’s part of the game.”
While this result ended Everton’s four-match winning streak in the Premier League, Dyche was proud of the performance as Vicario made crucial saves to deny Calvert-Lewin, Jack Harrison, James Garner and Danjuma in an end-to-end encounter.
He added: “I am pushing 11 months now and, out of all the performances we’ve had, that is arguably one of the performances I’m most proud of. I thought the players were absolutely superb.”
Tottenham struggled to build on their excellent start, Richarlison scoring for a third consecutive match with a fine near-post finish from Brennan Johnson’s cross before Son lashed home following a corner after Jordan Pickford had kept out Johnson’s low effort.
Nevertheless, this result made it three wins in a row and ensured Spurs would be in the top four at Christmas, with 11 victories from their opening 18 fixtures.
“We had to show some resilience and some strong defence in the box,” Postecoglou said.
“A couple of outstanding saves from Vic, who was brilliant again. It had a little bit of everything, a different type of performance by us, but the pleasing thing is we got the three points.”