Tottenham vs Ajax: How Spurs could have won European Cup in 1962 if VAR had been in existence
In their thrilling Champions League quarter-final win against Manchester City, Tottenham were hugely thankful for VAR.
First Fernando Llorente’s crucial third goal, which turned out to be the one to send Spurs through, was allowed to stand after referee Cuneyt Cakir checked footage and ruled the striker had not handled the ball prior to it going in.
Then in injury time City thought they scored the goal they needed to progress to the last four when Raheem Sterling struck from close range.
However, replays showed Sergio Aguero was marginally offside and the goal was chalked off. meaning Tottenham were through to their first European Cup semi-final in 57 years.
But had video assistant referees existed in 1962 Spurs might have been the first English side to win the prestigious competition.
Legendary Tottenham manager Bill Nicholson was convinced officials got it wrong in their semi-final first leg at Benfica where the prolific Eusebio was the star.
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“We had two ‘goals’ disallowed,” he wrote in his autobiography. “The first when Jimmy Greaves beat a full-back and put the ball into the net only to be given offside and the second when Greaves pulled the ball back for Bobby Smith to ‘score’.
“Greaves was certain that he was ahead of Smith when he passed, which meant that it was impossible for him to be offside.”
Spurs fell behind on the night after only five minutes through teenage winger Antonio Simoes.
A moment later, the 500 travelling Spurs fans thought Greaves had equalised.
Jose Augusto fired Benfica 2-0 up on 19 minutes.
Danny Blanchflower helped reduce the deficit when Smith thumped in his cross in the second half, but Augusto’s 64th-minute header gave Benfica a 3-1 lead.
Spurs thought they had reduced the arrears in the dying moments but, despite two Benfica defenders on the GOAL LINE, Smith was ruled offside.
To make matters worse, Greaves had another goal disallowed for offside in the second leg in front of 60,000 fans at White Hart Lane.
The linesman struggled to keep up with the speed of the striker and was well behind the play with his flag raised.
VAR, though, would have shown Greaves was well onside.
“The ref seemed willing to accept that Greaves had scored a good goal, but the linesman raised his flag,” Nicholson wrote.
Greaves thought as much, too. “I thought it was a good one. I ran between two Benfica players before shooting.
“This is twice I have been ‘done’ in the European Cup.”
Tottenham eventually won 2-1 in the second leg, falling just short of reaching the final. Benfica, who had beaten Barcelona in the 1961 final, retained the trophy by beating Real Madrid 5-3.
Nicholson added: “I believe that, but for some marginal refereeing decisions that went against us, we would have qualified to play Real in the final — and would have gone on to win.”
Source: SportsLatest TS