VAR Denies Rennes Last-Minute Equalizer Against Villarreal Due to Obscure Rule
Rennes suffered a setback in their quest for victory against Villarreal when a last-minute equalizing goal was disallowed following a peculiar VAR decision. The Thursday night clash between French Ligue 1 side Rennes and Spanish La Liga outfit Villarreal determined the leader of Group F in the Europa League.
With less than 10 minutes remaining, Villarreal held a 3-2 lead courtesy of Dani Parejo’s goal. In the dying moments of stoppage time, Lorenz Assignon believed he had secured a draw and secured the top spot for his team. However, VAR intervened, leading to confusion among spectators.
Initially presumed to be an offside call, referee Atilla Karaoglan signaled the goal’s annulment. Yet, it later emerged that an obscure rule was the decisive factor. Preceding Assignon’s goal, Rennes had been awarded a free-kick, taken by midfielder Enzo Le Fee.
Le Fee’s attempt struck the woodwork and rebounded directly to him before he passed the ball to Assignon. The ball eventually found the back of the net past Villarreal’s goalkeeper Pepe Reina. However, England’s FA Law 13, governing free-kicks, stipulates that the kicker cannot touch the ball again without another player doing so once the ball is back in play.
The rule states: “If, after the ball is in play, the kicker touches the ball again before it has touched another player, an indirect free kick is awarded.” UEFA is reported to adhere to a similar ruling, aligning with the English FA.
Following the match, Rennes manager Julien Stephan expressed his awareness of the rule’s existence for penalties but admitted ignorance regarding its application to free-kicks. Consequently, Rennes finished second in Group F, necessitating their participation in a playoff match for a spot in the Europa League round of 16.