Akira Kurosawa's 1950 masterpiece ‘Rushomon’ captures how the same event can be interpreted differently by various parties. We are seeing something akin to this play out before our eyes in the 2018 World Cup with the introduction of VAR – Video Assistant Referee.

The role of VAR technology is simply to correct ‘clear and obvious errors’ by the match referee. One would imagine this would reduce, if not eliminate, debate surrounding controversial decisions. But this is football, fuelled by debate to which VAR appears to have only added a new dimension.

Consider the recent match between Iran and Portugal. Both teams left the pitch feeling somewhat hard done by and we do not have to stretch our imagination to see why.

By all accounts, Paraguayan referee Enrique Caceres had a shocking evening officiating the match at Mordovia Arena in Saransk where VAR played a huge part.

Going into the game Portugal lead the group table with 5 points, Iran was 3rd with 3 points. An Iranian win would see the team finish the group stage topping the table and securing progression to the knockout stages.

It was an eventful match, mostly for the wrong reasons. Ricardo Quaresma's opener for Portugal was sublime, curled into the top left corner of the goal with the outside of his right foot from just beyond the 18-yard box. But that is where the beautiful game ended, and the match took an ugly turn.

As the clock struck 50 minutes, Ronaldo went down theatrically in the opponent’s penalty area. Following the referee’s VAR review, a penalty was awarded. This decision could have gone either way depending on how one interprets 'Law 14: The Penalty Kick (A penalty kick is awarded if a player commits a direct free kick offence inside their penalty area...)'.

From an Iranian perspective, although there was contact in the penalty area, it would not have been enough for a free-kick outside of it – so the penalty should not have stood.

Justice was served to the Iranians by way of a poor Ronaldo penalty-kick and a fabulous save by Iran Goalkeeper - Alireza Beiranvand. Some online sources report this as another ‘Ronaldo record – the first Portuguese player to miss a penalty in a World Cup’.

In the 82nd minute Morteza Pouraliganji was to be found writhing on the turf, clutching his face in agony as Cristiano Ronaldo wagged an accusatory finger in his direction. It was VAR time again.

The crowd observed the now familiar ritual of referee trotting to the half way line VAR hub to review the incident. He took his time. The pressure was on. He was reviewing a ‘deliberate elbow to the face‘ – potential violent conduct - by the book, a straight red card offence. This would mean being responsible for the sending off the ‘greatest player of all time’ and reducing Portugal to 10 players for the remainder of the match.

His decision in the end was half baked to say the least. A free kick and a yellow card – indicating an offence committed, but not enough for a red? This doesn’t stack up since the incident on review was a potential red card offence.

Succumbing to the pressure, Enrique Caceres sat on the VAR fence, making a farce of the very technology that was introduced to eradicate precisely these kinds of occurrences. Iran coach and Ronaldos fellow countryman, Qeiroz was incensed by the decision suggesting that Ronaldo received the lighter punishment than an ‘ordinary’ player would have got.

After the benefit of the same replay the two parties still fail to agree as to whether Cristiano Ronaldo’s action was deliberate. As far as Portugal were concerned the decision was harsh, the Iranians would beg to differ.

If that wasn’t enough the absurdity reached another level in injury time. A last-ditch Iran attack saw the ball crossed into the penalty area from the right wing, as Sardar Azmoun leaped over Portuguese defender Cedric to head the ball down for a team mate to latch on to – the ball appeared to be handled.

Once again, our referee canters over to the VAR hub. All the while the Iranian players doing all they can to rile the crowd up in a desperate attempt to mount pressure on the referee.

For a penalty to be awarded, Caceres would need to be confident this was a deliberate handball – hand-to-ball as it were. To every non-Iranian privy to the VAR footage this was not the case – there is no way Cedric could have seen the direction of the ball.

Iran’s antics seemed to have done the trick or maybe the referee was looking a right a wrong from earlier in the game – with another wrong.

The penalty was awarded to the disbelief of pundits and commentators alike – one going so far as to term the decision ‘a joke’.

Karim Ansarifard tucked away a world class strike from the spot levelling the score at 1-1.

In a final twist Mehdi Tahrimi had a chance to snatch the headlines and a win for Iran in the dying seconds as the ball fell kindly for him in front of the Portugal goal – only to hit the side netting – a moment which will replay in his mind for many a sleepless night to come.

A running sub-plot gave further context to the drama that unfolded in Saransk. Carlos Qeiroz worked closely with Cristiano Ronaldo at Manchester United as Sir Alex Fergusons No.2, it is reported their relationship broke during the 2010 World Cup when Qeiroz was the Portugal coach – Ronaldo appearing to blame him for the National Team's poor performance in the tournament.

Both teams have cause to feel justifiably hard done by the referee’s decisions in tandem with VAR. There were multiple perspectives to the same incident, the Iranian, the Portuguese and then the referee and VAR.

On another day maybe, Ronaldo would have been sent off and the outcome would have been different. However, we cannot ignore the significance of the last-minute penalty awarded to Iran, changing the complexion of Portugal’s route to the Final. They will now take on, what many will consider the more challenging prospect of Uruguay in the next round as opposed to bottom ranked Russia – who they would have played should they have won.

All involved in this year’s World Cup are grappling with how to correctly implement VAR technology – it has worked well on occasion and not so well on others, as was colourfully demonstrated in Saransk. It’s not a perfect system yet, but overall a welcome introduction that is a work in progress which will eventually come to benefit the sport.

My initial reservation around VAR was its impact on the millions of debates that take place the world over, in school grounds, workplaces and social gatherings. Was this the death of the debate? As observed in Kurosawa’s autobiography, "Human beings are unable to be honest with themselves about themselves. They cannot talk about themselves without embellishing."

In other words, there are two sides to every story and there is always more than one perspective. So, VAR or no VAR the ‘debate’ is safe, and long may it continue.