The Premier League has returned and with it the return of controversy about technology.
Aston Villa and Sheffield United drew 0-0 in the first match, a game that saw goal-line technology misfire, ruling out a goal for the visitors.
Hawk-Eye was forced to “unreservedly apologise” after failing to spot Aston Villa goalkeeper Ørjan Nyland carry the ball over his own goal-line after catching an in-swinging Sheffield United free kick.
The company acknowledged the ball had crossed the line and blamed the error on its seven cameras located in the stands being “significantly” obstructed by players and the goal post.
In the day’s other fixture, Manchester City beat Arsenal 3-0 on Wednesday as the Premier League returned to action after 100 days away because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Raheem Sterling put City in front, Kevin de Bruyne scored the second with a penalty and Phil Foden added a third in injury-time.
David Luiz, who was at fault for the first goal, was sent off for conceding the penalty.
City’s win reduced the gap between themselves and runaway leaders Liverpool to 22 points, meaning Juergen Klopp’s side need two wins to secure their first title since 1990.
Arsenal’s night began badly with injuries to Grant Xhaka and Pablo Mari and got worse when Luiz, who replaced Mari, miscontrolled a De Bruyne cross, allowing Sterling to smash in the opening goal on the stroke of half-time.
And Luiz then compounded matters early in the second half when he pulled back Riyad Mahrez to concede a penalty and collect a red card.
De Bruyne sent Arsenal goalkeeper Bernd Leno the wrong way to double City’s lead and Foden added the third late on after Sergio Aguero’s shot was turned onto the post by Leno.
The only downside for City was an injury to Eric Garcia, who was taken off on a stretcher after colliding with Ederson.
City and Arsenal had begun the match in the same way as Villa and Sheffield United, with all players, management and officials ‘taking a knee’ in recognition of the Black Lives Matter movement.
All the players had ‘Black Lives Matter’ on the back of their shirts.
Sheffield United denied win by oversight
Sixth-placed United thought they had scored when Oliver Norwood’s free kick late in the first half seemed to have been carried well over the line by home keeper Nyland, under pressure from Keinan Davis.
But referee Michael Oliver’s goal-line technology watch did not signal a goal and the video assistant referee did not overrule what seemed a clear mistake.
In a statement on Twitter, Hawk-Eye Innovations said the match officials had not received a signal to their watch or earpiece and that the seven cameras in the stadium “were significantly occluded by the goalkeeper, defender and goalpost”.
“Hawk-Eye unreservedly apologises to the Premier League, Sheffield United and everyone affected by this incident.”
The apology didn’t appease Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder.
“My issue is obviously one of frustration,” he said.
“Seven cameras haven’t picked it up – the most technical league in the world – everything we see at every angle and it hasn’t seen a goal. That is disappointing from our point of view.
“The statement has come out and it is unprecedented, unbelievable.”
Villa remain second from bottom, one point and two places from safety, while the visitors are one point behind fifth-placed Manchester United.