A notable moment from Ghana’s World Cup match against Portugal on November 24 was the penalty call that resulted in Portugal’s opening goal.
When defender Mohammed Salisu challenged Cristiano Ronaldo in the area for Ghana, referee Ismail Elfath saw the foul and gave the Selecao a penalty.
The game ultimately resulted in a 3–2 loss for the Black Stars after the former Man United star converted the kick to put his side ahead.
The majority of commentators have emphasised that Salisu and Ronaldo did not make contact, and that the referee should have at the very least mentioned the Video Assistant Referee (VAR), which he did not.
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ESPN, one of the biggest names in sports worldwide, had a different take on the situation.
“Before Salisu and Ronaldo made contact on each other’s upper body and boot, replays clearly indicated that Ronaldo had gotten to the ball first.
“Even if this penalty could be viewed as soft, we must analyse it in the context of VAR; the match referee, fellow American official Ismail Elfath, would not have regarded it as a glaring error.
Part of their analysis stated, “Equally, if the referee hadn’t given the penalty, it’s unlikely the VAR would have advised a spot kick.”
Salisu would have been entitled to a full review if he had reached the ball before Ronaldo, but he did not, which is unfortunate for the Ghanaian defender.
ESPN also mentioned a comparable incident involving Ronaldo and defender Alex Djiku at the halfway point.
“In the 31st minute, Ronaldo also believed he had scored, but the whistle had already been blown for a foul for pushing Alexander Djiku. Since nothing can be reviewed by the VAR after the referee blows his whistle, he is unable to review the foul that led to the goal’s award “They came to a conclusion.
Salisu vs. Ronaldo: Soft penalty but no necessity for VAR – ESPN analysis
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