By Peter Hall
SHEFFIELD, England (Reuters) - VAR took centre stage once again when Tottenham Hotspur's Harry Kane had a goal harshly ruled out as they slumped to a 3-1 defeat at Sheffield United in the Premier League on Thursday to remain nine points adrift in the race for the top four.
The hosts took the lead in the 31st minute as Norwegian Sander Berge finished off a fine flowing move, slotting the ball into the bottom corner for his first goal in English football.
Less than two minutes later, Kane fired past goalkeeper Dean Henderson but his equaliser was ruled out by VAR, with Lucas Moura adjudged to have used his arm to inadvertently nudge the ball in Kane's direction after being pushed to the ground.
Spurs boss Jose Mourinho was furious with the decision and his mood worsened in the 69th minute when United carved his team open again to set up substitute Lys Mousset for his first goal since Dec. 1.
Tottenham lacked creativity despite bags of possession and Oli McBurnie rubbed salt in their wounds with a third goal six minutes from time, before England striker Kane scored a 90th-minute consolation, tapping in from a Son Heung-min pass.
The result means United leapfrog Spurs to go seventh on 47 points, seven points off the top four, with Mourinho's inconsistent side dropping to ninth as their hopes of securing Champions League football for next season fade.
When the sides met at the Tottenham Stadium in November, United appeared to have been hard done by with a goal ruled out for a fractional offside decision.
This time it was Spurs who had cause to question the use of the VAR technology with a decision that Sky Sports pundit Jamie Redknapp described as the worst he had ever seen.
Asked for his opinion, Mourinho said: "I can't say what I think, because I would be in trouble, suspended, and I don't want to be. Asked if he had spoken to the referee, Chris Kavanagh, he added: "Which one? The referee is hidden in some office. This man on the pitch is not the referee."
United had struggled after the Premier League restart but agaisnt Tottenham they produced the kind of performance more in keeping with an impressive first season back in the top flight.
Manager Chris Wilder had sympathy for his Spurs counterpart but was more happy to talk about his team.
"They had the majority of the ball, as they will do with the players they've got, when we did break it down it was our turn to try and play which I thought we did," he said.
(Reporting by Peter Hall; additional reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Ken Ferris)