Patrick Vieira: “Today it helped us, and maybe the next game it will be against us, but it allows the referees to try to make the best decisions for the sake of the game.” (Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports)
LOS ANGELES — Patrick Vieira gave a thumb’s up to a VAR call on a handball, which turned into a goal for his team in a 2-2 draw with the Los Angeles Football Club Sunday.
A shot by defender Anton Tinnerholm from outside the penalty struck LAFC’s Edward Atuesta’s outstretched hand. Referee Chris Penso stopped the game and confirmed the call with VAR.
David Villa took the penlaty kick, which was saved by goalkeeper Tyler Miller, but the Spanish international headed home the rebound to give the visitors a 1-0 lead in the 13th minute.
“I’m not going to complain today about it, but I think we want the referee to make the right decision,” Vieira said. “I think what was really smart about the referee’s decision is that he went to go check himself and he decided it was a penalty. Today it helped us, and maybe the next game it will be against us, but it allows the referees to try to make the best decisions for the sake of the game, and it is good.”
Vieira looked like a genius in the second half, bringing on forward Ismael Tajouri-Sharadi for defender Ben Sweat in the 69th minute. That was three minutes after Carlos Vela had given the hosts a 2-1 lead.
In the 75th minute, Tajouri-Shradi scored the equalizing goal, his fifth of the season.
“I had wanted to make a move – it was something we had prepared,” Viera said. “We had players on the bench who can make a difference when we need it. I was really pleased because of course to not just get the goal, but it was really on his mind and that’s what I want from the players on the bench – to come into the game and help out the team. I think it was a great example today.”
Costa Rican international defender Ronald Matarrita, who replaced captain and striker David Villa in the 87th minute, felt the crowd got its money’s worth and NYCFC left with a deserved point, if not more.
“It was an excellent game by both teams,” he said. “We were very conscious that the game was very complicated the whole time, but we got a good result, getting an important point against an excellent team.
“The team clawed its way through the game on the field. We maintained it during the 90 minutes, but it’s soccer and we tied. We played a good enough game to win it, but that’s soccer.”