Referee in focus as Ecuador draws with Brazil in World Cup qualifier

Ecuador drew 1-1 at home against Brazil to boost its chances of qualifying for the World Cup in a game that saw two players sent off and a number of major refereeing decisions overturned by VAR.

Referee Wilmar Roldan refers to VAR during the FIFA World Cup qualifier between Brazil and Ecuador.   -  REUTERS

Ecuador drew 1-1 at home against Brazil to boost its chances of qualifying for the World Cup in a game that saw two players sent off and several major refereeing decisions overturned by VAR.

Casemiro opened the scoring by tapping into an empty goal in the sixth minute for Brazil — which has already qualified for the tournament in Qatar — before Ecuador equalized in the 75th minute with a header by Felix Torres.

But it was Colombian referee Wilmar Roldan who drew the most attention by getting a series of key decisions overturned after video review — with Brazil goalkeeper Alisson being shown a red card twice only to have both rescinded.

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Roldan did not even whistle for a foul when Ecuador goalkeeper Alexánder Dominguez planted his studs into the neck of Brazil striker Matheus Cunha as he challenged for a ball at the edge of the area in the 16th minute. After a VAR review, Dominguez was handed a straight red card.

Brazil defender Emerson Royal was then handed a second yellow in the 20th minute and Alisson appeared to become the third player sent off 10 minutes later after also hitting an opponent in the head with his leg after a clearance. However, Roldan changed his mind and only showed a yellow card after VAR stepped in.

The second half had a similar theme as the Colombian referee awarded two penalties to Ecuador only to reverse both decisions after a review. The second penalty was in injury time and involved Alisson getting a second yellow, which was also rescinded.

The draw means Ecuador could secure its place in Qatar with a win at Peru on Tuesday. Brazil was playing without injured star Neymar.

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