Every time Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund cross paths for der Klassiker, there are always controversial decisions that go either way that create emotionally talking points afterwards. The latest installment of Germany’s biggest fixture was no different as Bayern took full points with a 3-2 win at Signal Iduna Park thanks to a late penalty from Robert Lewandowski after Mats Hummels was ruled to have handled the ball in the box upon video assist review. Referee Felix Zwayer made the call to award the penalty, but had decided against rewarding Marco Reus a spot-kick earlier on in that second half.
The majority of the 15,000 spectators at the Westfalenstadion along with Marco Rose were furious when Zwayer waved off penalty shouts when Lucas Hernandez jostled in the box with Reus, resulting in the latter hitting the deck. The video replay center in Cologne certainly would’ve looked at the situation and communicated with Zwayer as to what, exactly, had occurred and he felt that it didn’t warrant a second look on the pitch side VAR monitor. Rose, Reus, and his teammates clearly felt strongly that a penalty was deserved.
Speaking after the match, Zwayer offered his insight on the situation. “It was contact in the upper body area, which is allowed to happen even at high speed. The situation is not black and white, I decided against the penalty kick because of my line (of sight). It was not necessary for me because I had a clear view. Again, in the situation with the handball on Hummels I had a factual perception. In the other situation I had a complete view, if the video assistant had a second shot - like an arm that was out - he would have given me that on the ear,” he explained (tz).
For the Hummels handball that led to Lewandowski’s match-winning penalty, Zwayer said that the defender’s arm was raised in an unnatural position running towards the ball when contact was made, making it an easier decision for him to make after viewing the VAR monitor. “The situation was a standard, corner kick. I see in the running game that it’s about a touch by Hummels. In the game it was not clear whether the arm went to the ball. I checked it after Cologne, then the arm position was checked. In the end, he clearly deflected the ball with his elbow. I came to the decision in the end that it was a penalty,” he explained.
Rose was noticeably frustrated by the non-call for Reus and subsequent call on Hummels, and Zwayer booked him for a second time shortly after Lewandowski converted his penalty, sending him behind his own technical area. He had every right to protest the events that unfolded, but it’s clear that Zwayer had as much insight as he possibly could’ve for both big situations between his communication with Cologne and the VAR monitor. On the main, most of the challenges and 50/50’s were crunching, as is typically the case in der Klassiker, which better helps explain why he didn’t award Reus a penalty.