VAR intervention denies 10-men All Whites in 1-0 World Cup playoff loss to Costa Rica

At Ahmad bin Ali Stadium, Doha, Qatar: Costa Rica 1 (Joel Campbell 3′) All Whites 0 HT: 1-0

The All Whites were denied an equalizer and had a man sent off following interventions by the video assistant referee [VAR] as they were beaten 1-0 by Costa Rica in their one-off World Cup qualifying playoff.

Joel Campbell put the Central American nation ahead inside three minutes at Ahmad bin Ali Stadium in Doha and the match was all about New Zealand from there.

Chris Wood thought he had scored an equalizer after pouncing when a ball in from Matt Garbett took a deflection off Costa Rican midfielder Yeltsin Tejeda in the 39th minute.

All Whites forward Kosta Barbarouses was sent off nine minutes after coming on against Costa Rica.

Hussein Sayed/AP

All Whites forward Kosta Barbarouses was sent off nine minutes after coming on against Costa Rica.

But after being directed to look at replays by VAR Abdulla Al-Marri, the man in the middle, Mohammed Abdulla Hassan Mohamed, judged Garbett to have brought down defender Óscar Duarte in the build-up.

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A second VAR intervention led to the dismissal of Kosta Barbarouses with 20 minutes to play, after he caught defender Francisco Calvo on the ankle with a rash challenge.

All Whites coach Danny Hay made two changes to the XI that faced Peru in warm-up friendly earlier this month, starting Nando Pijnaker over Tommy Smith at left center back and Clayton Lewis over Marko Stamenic in midfield.

Costa Rica’s goal came when Bill Tuiloma got caught wrestling with Anthony Contreras at a throw-in and Jewison Bennette was able to break free down the left and get off a cross as Winston Reid came to meet him.

Joel Campbell only just got to the ball ahead of three All Whites at the top of the box and didn’t connect cleanly, but got enough on it to send it rolling past Oli Sail into the bottom right-hand corner.

From that point on, the All Whites were always going to have the lion’s share of possession, but the question was what they would be able to do with it.

They had nine shots in the first half while Costa Rica didn’t manage another – their best chance before the VAR intervention coming when Wood got a toe to an inswinging ball from Joe Bell out on the left, only for goalkeeper Keylor Navas to be there to block it, as well as Wood’s follow-up.

Alex Greive also sent a shot just wide of the left post, after receiving lay-off from Wood, who later thought he had a case for a penalty when he was pushed by Contreras at a Clayton Lewis free kick and went down, but the referee waved it away and VAR didn’t intervene on that occasion.

Danny Hay turned to his bench on the hour mark, bringing Kosta Barbarouses and Ben Waine on for Matt Garbett and Alex Greive. Two forwards, Callum McCowatt and Marco Rojas, weren’t in the matchday squad and were said by NZ Football to be ill.

Barbarouses didn’t last long before being sent back to the dressing room and Hay responded by bringing Elijah Just on for Reid and shifting from a back three to a back four.

Costa Rica tested Oli Sail almost immediately after the All Whites were reduced to 10, but he palmed Contreras’ shot from the right away, and his team-mates set about trying to find an equalizer with their backs against the wall.

Lewis forced Navas to make a diving save as he tried to curl a shot from outside the box into the top left and Pijnaker sent a header wide at a corner soon after. Wood had a left-footed shot saved and couldn’t get a clean one off on another occasion, as he battled to get the ball under control.

Four minutes of stoppage time were added with the All Whites dominating possession, despite being a man down – they finished with 67%, and 14 shots to four – but they couldn’t fashion a last-gap miracle.

All Whites striker Chris Wood controls the ball against Costa Rica.

Joe Allison/Getty Images

All Whites striker Chris Wood controls the ball against Costa Rica.

The big moment

The VAR intervention to deny the All Whites an equalizer shortly before halftime. Former All White labeled it a “travesty” in commentary for Sky Sport. Garbett did have his arm wrapped around Duarte’s knee, but whether it was enough to rule out the ensuing goal was another matter. Barbarouses’ red card later on was more clear-cut.

Best on pitch

There have been a few All Whites games of late where Chris Wood hasn’t been able to get involved, but this wasn’t one of them. He was busy not only taking shots, but creating them too. He thought he’d got his side back in the game, but it wasn’t to be, and he kept threatening right until the end.

The big picture

For the third World Cup cycle in a row, the All Whites haven’t made it to the main event – ​​and the nature of this loss will sting. With the draw having already been made, Kiwi fans will be able to gaze longingly at Costa Rica’s matches against Spain, Japan, and Germany in group E of the 32-team tournament in Qatar – if they can stomach it. At least there’s a rare home fixture to look forward to in September against Australia, and this performance should have won them a few new fans.

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