Belfast Telegraph

World Cup 2018

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Alonso deserved red card for Long tackle, rages Hughes

Southampton threw away a 2-0 lead to lose 3-2 at home to Chelsea.

Mark Hughes has called for Marcos Alonso to race retrospective punishment for a challenge on Shane Long in Southampton’s 3-2 loss to Chelsea.

Saints boss Hughes hit out at the standard of Premier League refereeing with a dig over English officials being snubbed for the summer’s World Cup.

The former Chelsea striker insisted Alonso should have been sent off for his studs-up tackle on Long at St Mary’s Stadium, where the Blues hit three goals in an eight-minute victory blitz.

Spain defender Alonso avoided any sanction for the challenge and a suspension could rule him out of Chelsea’s FA Cup semi-final rematch with Saints on April 22.

“It was a poor challenge, it should have been a red card in my view,” said Hughes of the tackle.

“The disappointment was the officials didn’t see it, they were all within a 10 to 15 metre radius. One of them should have seen it.

“It was a poor tackle, and one that could have been more severe for Shane.

“Thankfully he’s just about okay, but he’s been raked down the calf.

“Chelsea down to 10 men, it could have put a different complexion on things.

“Referees have got to get them right – maybe that’s why they’re not in the World Cup this year.

“You’ve seen Shane for years and years, he’s an honest player, he doesn’t go down unless he’s injured.

“He was really angry after the game because it was a poor challenge.

“I don’t think he was booked, so maybe people need to look at that again, retrospectively.

“We’re not here to accuse people, and no sour grapes, but a decision needs to be made on that because it’s not acceptable.”

Relegation-threatened Saints were rightly dreaming of a vital victory when league debutant Jan Bednarek slotted home to hand them a 2-0 lead, adding to Dusan Tadic’s first-half strike.

Olivier Giroud climbed off the bench and turned the game on its head, though, scoring twice, with an Eden Hazard effort sandwiched between the Frenchman’s brace.

Chelsea boss Antonio Conte refused to comment on Alonso avoiding any punishment for his tackle on Long, before praising his players for shaking off a woeful first-half showing.

“I must be honest and say I didn’t see this,” said Conte of Alonso’s tackle.

“In the past I have never complained for a negative situation for my team, and I have the same behaviours also in this.

“I didn’t see it, and I can’t comment on this situation.

“I was very angry from our first half. In the second half we showed great character, great determination and desire to win the game. We showed the right fire in our eyes.”

Antonio Rudiger was omitted from Chelsea’s match-day squad, having recently criticised the Blues for failing to dominate possession.

Conte insisted the defender was neither injured, nor left out due to any kind of row.

Asked why Rudiger had not featured at Southampton, Conte said: “It was a tactical decision.”

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