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Chile furious at penalty decisions in opening loss

MONTEVIDEO (Reuters) - Chilean footballers berated South American referees and officials on Thursday after several penalty decisions went against them in a frustrating 2-1 loss to Uruguay in their opening World Cup qualifier in Montevideo.

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Luis Suarez got Uruguay’s first goal from the spot shortly before half time with the aid of the video assistant referee (VAR).

In a repeat of the controversies that have assailed English football this season, the Paraguayan referee took a long time to review the VAR but pointed to the spot after the ball bounced off Sebastian Vegas’ body and on to his arm as he slid in to block a shot.

Although Alexis Sanchez equalised for Chile early in the second half, substitute Maxi Gomez made it 2-1 in injury time to give the home side a barely deserved win.

The Chileans’ ire was exacerbated by the referee’s refusal to consider two of their own penalty claims, including one clear handball in the dying minutes of the match.

The country’s union of professional footballers threatened to make an official protest to the South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL) over the “glaring lack of criteria” used in the decisions.

Current and former players, too, expressed their anger.

Gary Medel, the captain who missed the game through injury, wrote on social media: “I’m saying nothing so I don’t get into trouble!! But that was terrible @CONMEBOL”

And former striker Ivan Zamorano also took to Twitter.

“How long are these robberies going to be allowed in South America,” Zamorano wrote. “Real thieves. Match gifted to Uruguay.”

Reporting by Andrew Downie in London; editing by Richard Pullin