| 10.6°C Belfast

Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino fears for the game after VAR chaos at Wembley

The first half was marred by controversy as Spurs end up hammering Rochdale.


Erik Lamela's early goal was ruled out by VAR

Erik Lamela's early goal was ruled out by VAR

Erik Lamela's early goal was ruled out by VAR

Boss Mauricio Pochettino branded the latest video technology controversy “embarrassing” after Tottenham came through a chaotic FA Cup replay against Rochdale.

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

It led to more criticism of the system with BT Sport pundit Robbie Savage calling it “ridiculous, bizarre and shambolic” while Jermaine Jenas said it was “comical”.

The incidents totally overshadowed the efforts of League One’s bottom club Rochdale, who cancelled out Son Heung-min’s opening goal through Stephen Humphrys and also hit the woodwork with the score at 1-1.

It also overshadowed Fernando Llorente’s perfect second-half left-foot, right-foot, header hat-trick, and a first Spurs goal for youngster Kyle Walker-Peters as the hosts eventually ran out 6-1 winners.

And Spurs boss Pochettino fears football will be the big loser unless the system is overhauled.

“The first half was a little bit embarrassing for everyone,” he said.

“I’m not sure that system is going to help. We love the game we know, football is about emotion but if we are going to kill emotion then people who love football will not be happy.

“I think football is about to make a mistake. Referees can make a mistake. When we watched the action at half-time it was difficult to take some decisions.

“The referee is the boss on the pitch and has the last word, always. And my worry is now we are talking about a machine and not football.”

VAR had already caused a mild stir before kick-off by requiring the lines on the pitch to be repainted, after they were initially painted dark blue to help the officials in the wintry conditions.

And just five minutes had elapsed when Erik Lamela thought he had fired Tottenham ahead only for referee Paul Tierney, on the advice of VAR Graham Scott, to disallow the goal for slightest of tugs on Harrison McGahey’s shirt by Llorente.

Tierney was holding his earpiece again after Spurs winger Lucas Moura was felled by McGahey in the area, with no penalty the eventual decision.

At least there could be no doubt surrounding the effort which did put Spurs ahead, Son curling a shot home from 15 yards.

But VAR was involved two minutes later when Kieran Trippier was held back by Matt Done as he charged into the area. Tierney gave what looked a perfectly reasonable free-kick, the VAR said penalty.

So it was only in keeping with the tone of slapstick when Son, having paused during his run-up, had his successful penalty disallowed and was booked. There was, of course, another delay while Tierney double-checked with VAR.

Dale boss Keith Hill said: “The decisions the VAR make need to be explained to the supporters.

“I knew, and the players knew, but we have to come up with a way to let people in the stadium know what’s happening. We have to use the scoreboard, to have the referee explaining what decision has been made.

“It will make the game better, if it’s the right decision why hide it? You have to embrace it, take a leaf out of rugby. I do think it will improve.”

Rochdale equalised when Humphrys controlled Andrew Cannon’s pass over the top and slotted home, before Cannon hit a post as a messy first half drew to a close.

The tie was over as a contest within 14 minutes of the restart as Llorente hit his treble.

Son added a fifth and Walker-Peters struck in stoppage time to end Dale’s adventure and secure a quarter-final trip to Swansea.