Controversy reigned at The Hawthorns as West Brom grabbed a much-needed three points against Brighton.
After taking the lead through skipper Kyle Bartley, who headed home Conor Gallagher’s corner in the 11th minute, the hosts were let off the hook when Pascal Gross rattled a penalty against the crossbar.
But the match descended into farce when the Seagulls were awarded a free-kick for Gallagher bundling into Alexis Mac Allister.
Visiting captain Lewis Dunk took it quickly after ref Lee Mason had blown his whistle in the 29th minute — only for the match official to give it a second blast as the ball flew into the net.
Mason (pictured above) was surrounded by furious and bewildered Brighton players as he ruled out the goal before appearing to reverse his decision.
Goal or no goal?
With the ball back on the centre spot ready for the game to restart at 1-1, the goal was subject to a VAR review.
And after a lengthy delay, Dunk’s effort was struck off once again and Mason was left to explain what had happened to stunned bosses Sam Allardyce and Graham Potter.
Centre-back Dunk eventually retook the free-kick but Baggies keeper Sam Johnstone was alert to make a comfortable save.
A tweet from the official Premier League account attempted to clear up the confusion.
It stated: “Lewis Dunk takes a quick free-kick and bends the ball into the net.
“But after consulting the VAR, referee Lee Mason overturned the goal because the whistle had been blown a second time before the ball had crossed the line.”
What a mess
Former Aston Villa midfielder Lee Hendrie could not believe his eyes as he watched the incident unfold from the TV gantry in his role as co-commentator for Sky Sports.
But the 43-year-old Brummie was quick to admit the right decision had been made — even though it took an eternity to sort out the mess.
He said: “There was a noise and that is why Brighton were furious… there is a big gap for Dunk and he almost passes it into the net.
“This is unbelievable and I have never seen anything like this in my whole time in football.
“I’m just looking at Lee Mason. He checks the wall, checks everything is in place and blows the whistle. I just do not understand why he blows it again.
“Whether he looks up and sees Johnstone so clearly away from his goal, and there is a big area of the goal for Dunk to stick it in, it is just an absolute bizarre moment in the game.
“Thankfully, VAR got it right.”
VAR had also been called upon to give the penalty Gross failed to stick away.
Dan Burn rose for a header but as the ball brushed off him it struck the raised arm of West Brom midfielder Okay Yokuslu.
Play continued before a spot-kick was awarded after Mason was instructed to watch the incident on the pitchside monitor.
But Gross could not convert his 20th-minute effort — and the Seagulls were left kicking themselves once again in the second half for failing to score another penalty.
Thankfully, VAR got it right
Lee Hendrie on the ‘goal’ that never was
This time, with 75 minutes on the clock, substitute Danny Welbeck was the guilty party after Gross had been fouled in the box.
The former Manchester United and Arsenal striker made a firm connection but the ball struck a post and came back to him in an offside position.
Reflecting on the missed spot-kick from Gross, Hendrie said: “Every time I see penalties taken with a little stutter, I am not a big fan.
“There was no conviction and that was a fabulous chance to get back on level terms.”
Not one but two missed spot-kicks
Unfortunately for Brighton, the two missed penalties were as close as they came to finding an equaliser and the relegation-haunted Baggies hung on for a precious victory.
But the match will be remembered for its controversial moments rather than the football dished up.
Just when you thought you had seen everything that match officials and VAR had to offer this season, they managed to deliver another major talking point we could have done without.
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