Belfast Telegraph

Pochettino fury as confusion over VAR mars Spurs victory

Tottenham 6-1 Rochdale

Finishing touch: Tottenham's Kyle Walker-Peters (centre) celebrates scoring his side's sixth and final goal last night
Finishing touch: Tottenham's Kyle Walker-Peters (centre) celebrates scoring his side's sixth and final goal last night

By Andy Sims

Tottenham beat Rochdale 6-1 in the FA Cup but video technology reduced the fifth-round replay at Wembley to a farce.

Spurs had two goals disallowed, were denied one penalty and awarded another all at the hands of the video assistant referee during a chaotic first half.

BT Sport pundit Robbie Savage led the criticism, branding the system "ridiculous, bizarre and shambolic" while Jermaine Jenas called it "comical at times".

The controversy overshadowed the efforts of Rochdale, who cancelled out Son Heung-min's goal - the one that was allowed to stand - through Stephen Humphrys.

League One's bottom club also hit the woodwork at 1-1, but were undone by Fernando Llorente's second-half hat-trick and strikes from Son and Kyle Walker-Peters.

Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino said: "It was so complicated because of the new system, it was difficult to keep focus.

"The job is done and we are happy because we are in a quarter-final (against Swansea). I told the players to keep focused. The circumstances were difficult. I think we have the best referees but I don't know if this system will help or cause more confusion. It is a game of emotion. If we are going to kill this emotion I think we are going to change the game."

VAR got into its stride after five minutes, when Erik Lamela thought he had hit the opener.

Referee Paul Tierney held his finger to his ear as VAR Graham Scott alerted him to the slightest of tugs on Harrison McGahey's shirt by Llorente, and after the lengthy delay what appeared a legitimate goal was disallowed.

Tierney was holding his earpiece again after Lucas Moura was felled by McGahey in the area, with no penalty the eventual - but far from definitive - decision.

At least there could be no doubt surrounding the effort which did put Spurs ahead, Son cutting in onto his right and curling home.

But VAR was back in the thick of it two minutes later when Kieran Trippier was held back by Matt Done as he charged into the area.

As Done was holding his man before he reached the corner of the box, Tierney gave what looked a perfectly reasonable free-kick.

But VAR again intervened, this time deciding that because the foul had continued into the area Tottenham should get a penalty.

Son, having paused during his run-up, had his successful penalty disallowed and was booked. Tierney double-checked with VAR, naturally, with more time wasted.

Tottenham's frustration then turned to dismay as Rochdale equalised, Humphrys controlling Andrew Cannon's pass over the top and taking the ball past keeper Michel Vorm before slotting home.

Dale also hit the base of Vorm's far post.

The tie was over as a contest within 14 minutes of the restart as Llorente grabbed a perfect left-foot, right-foot, header hat-trick.

With the snow falling heavily Son added the fifth, his second, after he was played in by Lamela.

And sub Walker-Peters steered home a sixth in stoppage time.

TOTTENHAM: Vorm, Trippier, Foyth, Dier, Rose, Sissoko, Winks (Dembele 62), Moura (Walker-Peters 82), Lamela, Son (Alli 67), Llorente. Subs not used: Sanchez, Kane, Gazzaniga, Eriksen, .

ROCHDALE: Lillis, Rafferty, McGahey, McNulty, Delaney, Done, Cannon (Adshead 76), Kitching (Thompson 64), Camps, Humphrys (Davies 58), Henderson. Subs not used: Ntlhe, Rathbone, Inman, Moore.

Man of the match: Llorente

Match rating: 7/10

Referee: Paul Tierney

Belfast Telegraph


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