Romelu Lukaku at the double as Man Utd overcome VAR controversy at Huddersfield
VAR became the major talking point of the FA Cup fifth round on Saturday evening.
Romelu Lukaku scored a brace to help Manchester United advance into the FA Cup quarter-finals with a 2-0 win at Huddersfield but not without a controversial intervention by the Video Assistant Referee at the John Smith’s Stadium.
While the decision to utilise technology and aid officials has been widely embraced, the trial period has not been without its hiccups in the English game and beyond.
The teething troubles continued as Juan Mata saw an effort cancelled out for the narrowest of offsides – with some strangely skewed lines superimposed on the screen – but Lukaku goals early in each half ensured United progressed with a 2-0 fifth-round victory.
The Belgium striker showed skill, strength and balance to put Jose Mourinho’s men ahead inside three minutes at the John Smith’s Stadium, then raced through to put the tie out of sight in the 55th minute.
Southampton piled more misery on West Brom to progress into the last eight with a confidence-boosting 2-1 victory at the Hawthorns.
West Brom quartet Jonny Evans, Gareth Barry, Jake Livermore and Boaz Myhill issued an apology on Friday relating to ‘an incident’ during a mid-winter training camp in Spain, which is being investigated by the club, with the Baggies also sitting seven points adrift of safety at the foot of the Premier League table.
However, Mauricio Pellegrino, who has been under severe scrutiny in his position as Saints boss in recent weeks, saw his side advance following goals from centre-back Wesley Hoedt and Dusan Tadic to dump out their top-flight rivals at the last-16 stage.
Dutch international Hoedt netted after 11 minutes to put the visitors ahead with a smart volley for his first Southampton goal before Tadic doubled their advantage with a chipped effort over goalkeeper Ben Foster shortly after the restart.
Salomon Rondon reduced the deficit in the 56th minute with a brilliant volley from Grzegorz Krychowiak’s lofted through-ball but the Baggies could not get an equaliser as Ahmed Hegazi hit the crossbar and Ryan Bertrand cleared Rondon’s follow-up off the line.
Brighton reached the last eight of the FA Cup for the first time in 32 years with a comfortable 3-1 success over League Two Coventry at the AMEX Stadium.
The hosts were ahead after 15 minutes when a low cross from Anthony Knockaert was tapped in by £14million record signing Jurgen Locadia for a debut goal.
Centre-back Connor Goldson headed home Markus Suttner’s corner to put the Premier League outfit into a 2-0 lead at the break before Leonardo Ulloa scored his first goal for Brighton since rejoining the club on loan from Leicester with a powerful header in the 61st minute to move 3-0 up.
Jonson Clarke-Harris, who hit the woodwork in the second half, grabbed a consolation goal for Coventry with 13 minutes remaining as the 1987 winners turn their attentions to promotion from the fourth tier.
Sheffield Wednesday and Swansea must try again after their tie ended goalless at Hillsborough in the early kick-off.
It's all over at Hillsborough... pic.twitter.com/XzVrKRJjUZ— Swansea City AFC (@SwansOfficial) February 17, 2018
Swans boss Carlos Carvalhal will face his old club again at the Liberty Stadium the week after next as they bid for a last-eight place for the first time since 1964.
Owls goalkeeper Cameron Dawson did well to keep out Mike van der Hoorn’s headed effort from close range in the 37th minute.
Wayne Routledge and Jordan Ayew went close for the visitors in the final 20 minutes but Wednesday had the last chance, although Lucas Joao was flagged offside as he attempted to turn in Adam Reach’s cross.