Van Marwijk has sympathy for referee after VAR drama

Bert van Marwijk refused to criticise the referee after the first VAR-assisted penalty went against Australia in its 2-1 defeat to France.

A view of the video assistant refereeing (VAR) operation room at the FIFA World Cup Russia International Broadcast Centre (IBC) in Moscow.   -  AFP

Australia head coach Bert van Marwijk has expressed sympathy with Andres Cunha after he became the first referee in World Cup history to award a penalty after consulting VAR.

The Socceroos had comfortably kept France at bay until shortly after the interval when Antoine Griezmann was clipped by Josh Risdon after latching onto Paul Pogba's throughball.

READ: France 2 Australia 1: Historic Griezmann goal and Pogba secure slender win

Referee Cunha initially waved away penalty appeals, but after consulting VAR decided that Risdon had indeed brought down the Atletico Madrid striker just inside the area.

Mile Jedinak pulled Australia level four minutes later with a spot-kick of his own, but Pogba sealed all three points for France 10 minutes from time with a deflected effort.

While Van Marwijk does not believe a penalty should have been awarded, he does understand the difficulty of the situation Cunha found himself in.

He said: "I didn't see it back on TV. From my position, I didn't see it well and at first, I thought 'no penalty'.

'We all make mistakes'

"I hoped that maybe there will be a very honest referee. When he went to the touchline his body language was that he didn't know [what decision to give].

"Then he has to make a decision, France or Australia. I have a lot of reactions. From 10 people, some will say 'penalty' and some will say 'not'.

"It's difficult, particularly when the referee has 50,000 people on his back when he is doubting.

"I think he was standing very close to incident and he directly said, 'no penalty'. He said go on. He is a human being so we all make mistakes."

France's heralded attacking trio of Griezmann, Kylian Mbappe and Ousmane Dembele failed to ignite against a dogged Australian outfit, with Van Marwijk stating: "I think the French didn't know what to do against us, for big parts."

Australia now faces Denmark in Group C on Thursday and Van Marwijk has seen enough from his side over the past month to know that it can get points on the board.

"When you see this game you must have confidence, but it's never a guarantee," he added.

"The way we worked the last four weeks gives me confidence. Yesterday I was asked if I was afraid to lose 5-0. Today you can see this is a different team.

"One positive thing is we showed guts and that we can be ourselves, but the next game is another game. It gives us confidence."

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