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VAR confusion could blight World Cup – Southgate

German referee Deniz Aytekin analyses video footage before awarding Italy a late penalty © AFP / Ian KINGTON

LONDON, United Kingdom, Mar 28England manager Gareth Southgate believes a lack of clarity over the video assistant referee (VAR) system could blight the 2018 World Cup.

Southgate’s side were denied another impressive World Cup warm-up friendly result as Lorenzo Insigne’s penalty three minutes from time salvaged a 1-1 draw for Italy at Wembley on Tuesday.

However, the visitors were only awarded a spot-kick after German referee Deniz Aytekin overturned his initial decision not to give a penalty when substitute Federico Chiesa tumbled under the challenge of James Tarkowski using VAR.

“I’m glad it’s not the World Cup just yet,” said Southgate. “I think the ruling is ‘clear and obvious’ and it’s not. It’s one you can debate all day.”

Southgate added that he is against the use of technology, as in England’s Premier League, despite the huge financial considerations wrong decisions can affect.

“I prefer referee’s decision is final. It’s sport and we shouldn’t be talking abut how much money it’s cost or lost.”

England were on course to back up their 1-0 win over the Netherlands on Friday and draws against World Cup favourites Germany and Brazil back in November thanks to Jamie Vardy’s 26th-minute opener.

“Generally over the two games I’m really pleased,” added Southgate.

“In the last four games we’ve played four of the biggest countries in the world, at different levels of progression, and been competitive in every one.”

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Insigne’s equaliser was the first goal England have conceded in six games.

However, the hosts could have been punished far earlier for a lackadaisical start but for some poor finishing from Ciro Immobile.

The Lazio striker has scored 34 goals this season, but twice failed to get his shot away in time after pouncing on a pair of errors by John Stones inside the first three minutes.

Immobile’s best chance came 10 minutes later when he met Antonio Candreva’s enticing cross unmarked at the back post, but again failed to find the target as his header drifted over.

– Kane void –

England have had to cope without talismanic striker Harry Kane through injury for all of their last four friendlies.

However, Vardy furthered his case should Southgate have to cope without Kane once more in Russia by blasting ruthlessly into the roof of the net from Jesse Lingard’s quickly taken free-kick.

Italy will not be joining England in Russia come the summer having failed to qualify for the first time in 60 years.

But the difference in motivation for both sides failed to show as a slew of substitutions began in the second half with many England players unable to make an impression in their final match before Southgate names his provisional 23-man World Cup squad.

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England’s lack of goals without Kane continues to be a concern for Southgate.

Kane has scored seven goals in his last six international appearances, but without the Spurs striker England lacked a cutting edge to kill the game off.

They were nearly punished when Insigne volleyed across Butland and just beyond the far post 10 minutes from time.

But there was no such reprieve five minutes later.

The decision to use VAR at the World Cup has not been an entirely popular one due to mixed results from a series of trials across the world.

But replays proved Tarkowski had trod on Chiesa’s foot and Insigne wasn’t distracted by a lengthy wait to take the penalty as he smashed low into Butland’s right-hand corner.

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