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Southampton boss Mark Hughes unhappy with officials as Chelsea reach cup final

Saints were denied a second-half equaliser.

Mark Hughes
Mark Hughes

Mark Hughes was baffled as to why the video assistant referee was not consulted for a “match-defining” moment in Southampton’s FA Cup semi-final defeat to Chelsea.

Blues goalkeeper Willy Caballero dropped the ball into his own net during the second half at Wembley but referee Martin Atkinson disallowed the goal and penalised Saints striker Charlie Austin for a foul.

Chelsea were 1-0 up at that stage thanks to Olivier Giroud, and substitute Alvaro Morata sealed a 2-0 success with a late header.

Unhappy Saints boss Hughes was disappointed with the overall performance of the officials and believes Atkinson should have utilised VAR technology following Caballero’s fumble.

“There’s disappointment because the situation where the goalkeeper’s made a wrong decision, basically thrown the ball into the back of his net,” the Welshman said.

“If ever there was a situation for VAR to play a hand and step in to review that, I would have thought that was an opportunity.

“It was a match-defining moment, a key moment. Who knows how the game might have followed from that moment? Why it wasn’t referred? I have no idea.

“Giroud handled from the following corner, another they could have reviewed, but maybe that was a bit too quick for him.

“We’re disappointed with the officials on the day, and whoever it is who sits in a darkened room.

“We will speak (to the officials). I’m not sure how the process works. Does the referee make an instant decision? Do they tell him?”

Struggling Saints, who are in serious danger of Premier League relegation, could have also benefited from VAR in last weekend’s league defeat to the Blues when Marcos Alonso escaped a red card after standing on the leg of Shane Long.

The technology is not currently used in England’s top flight, although Chelsea defender Alonso missed the semi-final after being banned retrospectively.

Despite the controversy, Hughes’ men were second best for most of Sunday’s game.

Chelsea, inspired by Eden Hazard, will now face Manchester United in next month’s final, with Antonio Conte and Jose Mourinho set to go head to head once again.

The pair have clashed numerous times in the recent past, although both played down their feud before their league meeting in February.

Blues boss Conte, who lost to Arsenal in last season’s cup final, reiterated that he has no issue with Mourinho, while also saying that United are favourites to lift the trophy.

Jose Mourinho and Antonio Conte go head to head in the cup final next month

“With Jose, we have clarified the situation,” Conte said. “There is not a problem between him and I.

“We are talking about two managers with strong characters, and two winners.

“When in your mind and your heart and your blood there is the will to win, for sure, we want to try to win this trophy.

“The same way Manchester United want to do this. I repeat, I have great respect for United’s story, for Mourinho’s story.

“They have the same respect, I think, for Chelsea’s story and my story.”

United booked their place in the final by beating Tottenham 2-1 on Saturday.

Conte added: “I can tell you that we played last season in the final and arrived as favourites against Arsenal.

“This season, we are arriving not as favourites.

“But, as you know very well, we lost the final despite being favourites in my mind.”

Press Association


From Belfast Telegraph