VALENCIA, Nov 26 (Reuters) - Barcelona forward Lionel Messi was denied a goal during the top-of-the-table clash at Valencia in La Liga on Sunday despite his shot clearly crossing the line as the lack of goal-line technology in Spain caused controversy again.
Messi’s tame shot in the 30th minute was spilled by Valencia goalkeeper Neto and bounced over the line before the Brazilian dragged it back over, but neither referee Ignacio Iglesias Villanueva nor his assistant spotted it.
Messi celebrated the goal along with his team mates but play continued and Valencia almost scored as Simone Zaza flashed a shot just wide, narrowly averting more controversy.
The game was goalless at halftime, with Barca leading Valencia by four points in the standings.
Spain’s top flight is the only one of Europe’s leading five leagues which has so far shunned the use of goal-line technology, much to the frustration of the teams.
Last season Barca were not awarded a goal despite television replays showing the ball had crossed the line during a 1-1 draw with Real Betis.
The Spanish soccer federation (RFEF) announced this month that the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) system would used in the league from the start of next season, joining Germany’s Bundesliga and Italy’s Serie A who are using the technology.
VAR involves assistant referees watching the action remotely and then drawing the match referee’s attention to officiating mistakes or serious incidents that have been missed.
While goal-line technology just determines whether the ball has crossed the line, VAR can also be used for decisions on red cards, penalties and cases of mistaken identity. (Reporting by Richard Martin; Editing by Ken Ferris)