World Cup day 16 in a nutshell: VAR defence and England ‘should believe’

We round up Friday’s talking points from the World Cup as FIFA defend VAR, while England should believe “more than ever”.

In the news

FIFA’s referee committee head Pierluigi Collina said VAR had been a huge success at Russia 2018 so far.

Having reviewed the first 48 games, Collina said there have been 335 incidents checked – nearly seven per game – with 14 on-field reviews made by referees and three reviews made by the VAR team on factual decisions.

Of these incidents, referees called 95 per cent of them correctly without VAR but video replays improved this to 99.3 per cent by correcting 14 of them.

“We have always said that VAR doesn’t mean perfection – there could still be the wrong interpretation or a mistake – but I think you would agree that 99.3 per cent is very close to perfection,” Collina said.

Raheem Sterling should start over Marcus Rashford in England’s last-16 clash with Colombia, Alan Smith told Sky Sports.

Rashford was given the opportunity to state his case for inclusion in Thursday night’s 1-0 defeat to Belgium, but wasted the Three Lions’ best chance of the game after half-time.

Sterling had been criticised for his performance in England’s group-opener with Tunisia, but set up two goals in their 6-1 thrashing of Panama last Sunday.

“There was quite a groundswell from supporters as much as anything for Marcus Rashford to get a shout (to start for England) and if he’d have put that chance away it would have been a very different situation,” Smith said.

Gary Neville issued a passionate plea for the nation to be swept up in optimism as England head into the World Cup knockout stages.

Adnan Januzaj’s second-half goal condemned Gareth Southgate’s side to defeat in their final Group G match, meaning they finished behind Belgium in the group and will now face Colombia in the last 16 on Tuesday.

“What an opportunity for those players,” he said. “What an opportunity for Gareth Southgate to sweep a nation with him. The positivity should be bigger after the Belgium game.

“Getting to a quarter-final would be a really good achievement, if we got to a semi-final it would be an incredible achievement.”

Fabian Delph temporarily left England’s World Cup camp in Russia ahead of his wife giving birth.

After starting Thursday’s 1-0 defeat to Belgium, the Manchester City midfielder flew home to be with his partner Natalie.

The Football Association confirmed that Delph left straight from Kaliningrad, with their third child due on Saturday.

Key quotes Tweet of the day

No rest for the wicket on the England squad’s day off…

The association’s competitions director Colin Smith said: “We want every seat filled inside the stadium. The reality is that there are some no-shows.”