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ESPN FC  By Dale Johnson

Harry Kane penalties: Why VAR might not have advised spot kicks

Steve McManaman explains the importance of England's win over Tunisia, and the FC crew rate Harry Kane's performance in his World Cup debut.

England fans were up in arms about Harry Kane being denied two penalties against Tunisia following grappling in the box.

The first incident came in the 39th minute, shortly after Ferjani Sassi, who moments before had scored from the spot for Tunisia, appeared to wrestle Kane to the floor.

The video assistant referee (VAR), Sandro Ricci of Brazil, did initiate a review for the incident, which means he will look at several camera angles before either instructing the match referee, Wilmar Roldan, to take a look himself or indicate play should continue as there is no possible clear and obvious error to review. 

Most agree that Sassi pulling Kane down is a foul, and as such it should have been reviewed and penalty awarded. However, just before that foul was committed John Stones clearly pushes Ellyes Skhiri in the back. Even if both offences happened at the same time, the laws of the game state play is restarted with a drop ball and as such VAR would not intervene. 

Unfortunately we cannot embed gifs which show the incident, but if you do search one out via Twitter (there are plenty available) you will see that the Stones push is just before Kane was actually fouled (not the initial contact).

This still image shows that Stones has already pushed Skhiri by the time Kane is being pulled down. It does not matter that Stones and Skhiri are not near the ball. 

VAR protocol states that if there is a foul by the attacking team before the review incident, then that negates the review. The first infringement will always take precedent over that of the review. This is one reason by the VAR may have indicated play should continue. 

The second incident, in the 52nd minute, appeared to show Kane being pulled to the floor by Yassine Meriah. However, replays indicated that Kane maybe also had hold of Meriah's arm and was pulling the Tunisian down as much as the other way around. Again, it appears to be a reason why VAR may not have asked Roldan to take a second look.

There was also no referee review for the Tunisia penalty, though VAR did consider the incident, when Kyle Walker caught Fakhreddine Ben Youssef with his arm. The side-on angle was particularly damning for the Manchester City defender, who appeared to throw his arm back. It was not an incident that could have been considered a "clear and obvious" error by the referee.

Dale Johnson has been an editor and journalist at ESPN for 18 years. You can follow him on Twitter @dalejohnsonESPN.

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