Spain unhappy about lack of VAR in Greece draw

Spain’s players are adamant that the referee’s decision to award a 56th-minute penalty against Inigo Martinez was wrong.

Greece’s Tasos Basaketas (centre) celebrates after scoring his side’s goal.   -  AP

Spain was angry about the absence of a Video Assistant Referee (VAR) as it was held to a 1-1 draw by a resolute Greece side in its opening World Cup Group B qualifier on Thursday.

While most major European leagues and competitions have VAR at all games, the European World Cup qualifiers are being played without the additional technology.

Spain’s players were adamant that referee Marco Guida's decision to award a 56th-minute penalty against Inigo Martinez when the score was 1-0 was wrong. Replays showed the Athletic Bilbao defender, who came on as a halftime substitute for captain Sergio Ramos, made contact high up on Giorgos Masouras' shin when challenging for a ball in his own box.

Greece skipper Anastasios Bakasetas netted the spot-kick to earn the visitors an unlikely point.

‘Not happy’

“Obviously, I'm really angry. It's a moment that they make you pay for. We're not happy with the draw and with VAR it would've been a different story,” Martinez said.

“It's a 50-50 challenge and I get there. I can't stop myself. I pull my leg away and I don't mean to do any damage (to Masouras).

“He was clever and stayed down, and it's strange the referee took so long to blow for it, too. It was the key moment in the game.”

Team-mate Marcos Llorente was also unhappy with the decision. “It didn't look like a penalty to me on the pitch,” he said. “With VAR that's never, ever getting given.”