Saka avoids commenting on VAR after England’s 2-0 win over Malta

By Sports Desk November 18, 2023

Bukayo Saka refused to be drawn into more VAR controversy following England’s mundane Euro 2024 qualifying win over Malta.

The Arsenal winger has seen club manager Mikel Arteta handed a Football Association charge for his criticism of referees and VAR in the recent 1-0 Premier League defeat at Newcastle.

Arteta said it was “embarrassing” and a “disgrace” that Anthony Gordon’s goal was allowed to stand following a lengthy check.

England limped to a forgettable 2-0 victory over Malta at Wembley on Friday night but saw captain Harry Kane booked for simulation when there appeared to be clear contact from Malta goalkeeper Henry Bonello.

Saka was introduced at the interval and set up Kane to double England’s lead before his Arsenal team-mate Declan Rice had a goal ruled out when VAR intervened once again to rule that Kane was offside.

“Honestly, let’s not make comments about VAR tonight,” Saka replied when asked about the tight calls.

“I think let’s just focus on the win, the three points and be positive about it.”

England had taken an early lead through an Enrico Pepe own goal but then toiled, with no shot on target until well into the second-half and Kane shown a yellow card having been accused of going to ground to easily.

Asked if he had ever known Kane to dive, Saka added: “No, no. Even if I did I’m not going to say it now! He’s not a diver.

“I think it was a clear penalty from what I saw. I thought even VAR would check it and overturn it but I don’t know what they saw.”

While the win over the minnows of Malta may have been wholly unconvincing, it does mean Gareth Southgate’s side are all-but assured of being top seeds at Euro 2024.

“(That is) very important,” Saka said.

“Going into this camp Gareth made that really clear and was clear that it was important for us.

“So obviously the mindset going into these two games we made sure that we were on it and we made sure that we were ready to win, so we won today – obviously we don’t want to lose to North Macedonia, the mindset (is) to go there and win again. So that’s what we’re focused on.

“I think it’s a game where we didn’t really start the best, obviously we tried to pick up the pace but we have to give some credit to Malta as well, they played quite well.

“But in the end, we won 2-0, we got the three points so now we just have to move on.”

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