Millie Bright: England captain says no VAR is 'mind-blowing' in Netherlands loss

Millie Bright and the Netherlands squad
The Netherlands won the European Championship in 2017 before England won the tournament in 2022

It is “mind-blowing” that the video assistant referee was not used in England’s Women’s Nations League defeat by the Netherlands, says captain Millie Bright.

Renate Jansen’s 90th-minute goal gave the Netherlands a 2-1 victory after Alessia Russo cancelled out Lieke Martens’ opener.

However, midfielder Danielle van de Donk appeared to be offside when Martens put the hosts ahead in Utrecht.

“There is no consistency,” said Bright.

“It is always frustrating [to not have VAR]. I think we push the level of the game to be so high and professional, yet we sometimes have VAR, sometimes don’t, sometimes have goalline technology…

“By no means is that an excuse. We put ourselves in that position – not clearing the ball, not getting out of pressure. But yeah, they are the differences in games as well and it is really unfortunate that these are still huge decisions that are incorrect.

“That’s where we as players have to keep speaking about it, we have to step up, we have to demand better and demand more. This is international football and we do not have VAR in a competitive international game, which is mind-blowing.”

England beat Scotland 2-1 on Friday in their first match of the new Women’s Nations League tournament but their opponents felt they should have had a penalty for a shove on striker Martha Thomas by Bright.

World Cup finalists England also had two goals disallowed for offside but there was no VAR to confirm if that was the case.

The use of VAR has not been made mandatory in the group stages of the competition and is at the discretion of each host.

England boss Sarina Wiegman, returning to her home country, said it was “frustrating” to see an “obvious” offside goal given in Tuesday’s defeat.

“I think the whole stadium thought it was offside,” she added.

“When you talk about VAR, of course it would have taken away that goal. I think we need consistency in VAR. Either you have VAR or you don’t have VAR.”

England must win their Women’s Nations League group for a chance to qualify on behalf of Team GB for the 2024 Olympic Games.

“We are competing to go to an Olympics here, yet things like that are the difference,” midfielder Georgia Stanway said. “There is not much you can say apart from there is still work to be done in the women’s game and for VAR to be at every single game.”

‘We really gave it away’ – Wiegman

It was just the third defeat for the Lionesses under manager Wiegman and leaves them third in their four-team Women’s Nations League group.

Having looked unconvincing against Scotland, England were once again lacking fluidity and intensity.

“[The defeat] was hard to take especially because it was so unnecessary. We really gave it away in the last few minutes. That’s the most disappointing thing,” said Wiegman.

“I think there were two halves. In the first half we didn’t get the press we wanted. They had their strengths and were on the ball all the time. They didn’t create many chances but there was some dangerous moments.

“The second half I think we dominated the game. They had to go back and didn’t create the press they wanted to. We scored a good goal and of course I hoped we would score a little bit more. Then in the last seconds we gave it away.”

Netherlands boss Andries Jonker said “everyone could have lived” with a draw had Jansen not scored late on but he was “not surprised” by England’s apparent rustiness.

“We watched the game against Scotland and we could already see it was not an easy win for England,” said Jonker.

“We knew England didn’t look that strong and we were convinced that we should be able to play a good match. We think we can beat everybody in women’s football but we have to be on top [of our game].”

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