Rio Ferdinand and Alan Shearer were left baffled by VAR's decision to award Argentinian superstar Lionel Messi a penalty during their 2022 FIFA World Cup clash against Poland.
Polish shot-stopper Wojciech Szczesny pulled off a great stop to deny Julian Alvarez in the first half. However, the Manchester City man got the ball back and whipped in a cross towards the back post where Messi was waiting to meet it.
Szczesny tried to parry the ball away but made contact with Messi's face after he had headed the ball wide of the post. As the Argentinian players complained, referee Danny Makkelie went to have a look at the VAR screen and awarded Argentina the spot kick.
Lionel Messi, however, was brilliantly denied by Szczesny. The Juventus goalkeeper dived to his left to pull off the save with a firm right hand.
BBC pundits Rio Ferdinand and Alan Shearer couldn't wrap their heads around the call to award the penalty. Ferdinand said:
"It's disgraceful Gary [Lineker], This isn't what VAR was brought in for, he flicks his eyelash for starters and the fact he's gone over to look at it is an outrageous decision that's been made, he's barely touched him."
Shearer agreed with Ferdinand's comments as the legendary striker said:
"Never, ever a penalty, I mean can you imagine when they brought VAR in and told us it's just to clear up clear and obvious, and they are not going to re-referee the game. I mean, that's never a pen. You have got four guys here who think exactly the same."
Despite the controversies, Messi and La Albiceleste have progressed to the Round of 16 of the tournament as Group C winners and will face Australia next.
Poland, meanwhile, also advanced as the second-placed team in the group. They will face the defending world champions and Group D winners France in their next game.
How has Argentina's captain Lionel Messi fared so far in the 2022 FIFA World Cup?
Lionel Messi found the back of the net twice in the group stages; he also supplied a solitary assist.
Messi's first goal of the tournament came against Saudi Arabia from the penalty spot. The South American team looked in cruise control for the first half, but were stunned by two second-half goals as they lost their opener 2-1.
La Albiceleste secured a 2-0 win in their next game against Mexico. Messi bagged a goal from outside the box to break the deadlock, and he was also the provider for Enzo Fernandez's late stunner.