Chief Reporter, Sky Sports News
VAR anonymous at Anfield as Liverpool beat Norwich City
Last Updated: 11/08/19 7:29pm
A historic Premier League night at Anfield ended with five goals and eight checks from the competition's first video assistant referee (VAR).
200 miles away from the stadium, a fixed camera inside VAR headquarters at Stockley Park saw Andre Marriner shake hands with assistant Scott Ledger before the start of the game.
Both officials quietly worked away behind the scenes without drawing any attention to themselves, even as they wore standard-issue green referee tops.
A PA announcer informed supporters about VAR, and what to expect, before the players emerged onto the pitch; eight incidents were checked in total and no review was required, which could have led to a delay to the game.
Grant Hanley's own-goal for Norwich was automatically reviewed. In under a minute, Marriner had told Oliver: "check complete". There was no issue with the goal and no delay to the restart of play.
Mohamed Salah's goal was automatically reviewed. Had Oliver's officials missed offside in the build-up to the goal? No. Again, in under sixty seconds, Marriner confirmed there was no issue and the game restarted without delay.
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Virgil van Dijk's powerful header was automatically checked, as was an incident before the corner that led to the goal. Had Divock Origi caught Emiliano Buendia, who went down holding his face? The incident was checked for an automatic red card, but on-field referee Michael Oliver hadn't missed anything serious.
Liverpool's fourth goal, scored by Origi, was checked and no issues were raised. Then, after the break, the unexpected happened which could have derailed a slick start to the new season.
There was a delay to the start of the second half due to an issue with the communications system of Simon Bennett, one of the game's assistant referees. His headset was picking up interference.
Supporters became restless and started to jeer. After an awkward period, Oliver's broad smile confirmed the issue had been resolved. Jurgen Klopp smiled and the second half restarted.
Norwich pulled one back and VAR's automatic check of Teemu Pukki's goal was unremarkable.
In the 63rd minute, there was a check involving Origi on Max Aarons. Nothing had been missed.
In the 84th minute, Marriner checked to see whether Roberto Firmino was brought down inside the penalty area. A free-kick had been given. A check confirmed Hanley's challenge was outside the box, nothing had been missed, and there was no delay.
Liverpool won 4-1 and there were no 'clear and obvious errors' or 'serious missed incidents'. Therefore there was no reason for Marriner to advise Oliver to change a decision.
Liverpool ruthlessly did their job on the pitch. VAR quietly did its job off it without fuss or interruption. The issue with Bennett's headset will have been embarrassing but it had nothing to do with VAR. Officials will quietly toast a successful job done in a high-profile opening game.