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Rediff.com  » Sports » FA Cup: Llorente treble fires Spurs after more VAR chaos

FA Cup: Llorente treble fires Spurs after more VAR chaos

Last updated on: March 01, 2018 11:51 IST

Tottenhma Hotspur's Fernando Llorente celebrates his hat-trick against Rochdal during their FA Cup fifth round tie on Wednesday

IMAGE: Tottenhma Hotspur's Fernando Llorente celebrates his hat-trick against Rochdal during their FA Cup fifth round tie on Wednesday. Photograph: Tottenham Hotspur/Twitter

Fernando Llorente's hat-trick helped fire Tottenham Hotspur to a crushing 6-1 victory over third-tier Rochdale on Wednesday in an FA Cup fifth-round replay packed with contentious decisions that thrust the VAR system back into the spotlight.

 

Llorente's second-half treble, a double from Son Heung-min and a late effort from Kyle Walker-Peters in driving snow at a freezing Wembley Stadium settled an game where tensions had threatened to bubble over before the break.

The Video Assistant Referee disallowed an early Tottenham goal before awarding them a disputed penalty, which was converted by Son, only for referee Paul Tierney to chalk off his effort and book the player for stopping during his run-up.

Rochdale's Stephen Humphrys cancelled out Son's opener, rubbing salt into Spurs' wounds and ensuring the halftime debate centred on the VAR system, which is being trialled in the FA Cup this season.

Spurs made those arguments academic, however, with five goals after the break to set up a quarter-final tie away to Premier League strugglers SwanseaCity.

Part of the debate surrounding VAR is about the length of time it takes for decisions to be made and how fans are often left in the dark about the reasons behind them. Both issues were illustrated after six minutes at Wembley.

Tottenham's Son Heung-min scores their fifth goal

IMAGE: Tottenham's Son Heung-min taps in their fifth goal. Photograph: Matthew Childs/Action Images via Reuters

Spurs thought they had opened the scoring when Erik Lamela tapped into the net, but a lengthy pause followed before the goal was chalked off by the VAR, with replays suggesting it may have been for shirt pulling by Llorente.

Son gave Spurs the lead when he curled home from 12 metres after 23 minutes and two minutes later the VAR was called upon again after the referee said Kieran Trippier was pulled down by Matt Done outside the area.

The video assistant said the foul had continued into the box and awarded the penalty, which Son stroked home, only for the referee to rule his effort out and produce a yellow card because he stopped and re-started during his run-up.

Humphrys drew the third tier side improbably level when he took the ball in his stride and beat Spurs keeper Michel Vorm.

The second half, however, was barely a contest. Llorente chipped Spurs into the lead from Lucas Moura's through ball, toe-poked the ball home from close range to make it 3-1 and completed his hat-trick with a header.

Son tapped into an empty net after 65 minutes and 20-year-old Walker-Peters netted his first Spurs goal in stoppage time.

Spurs Pochettino fears VAR could "kill" emotion in football

Mauricio Pochettino said: 'It was so complicated because of the new system, it was difficult to keep focus on the game'

IMAGE: Mauricio Pochettino said: 'It was so complicated because of the new system, it was difficult to keep focus on the game'. Photograph: Tottenham Hotspur/Twitter

Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino fears the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) could kill the emotion in football after the system came under scrutiny again in his team's 6-1 FA Cup win over third-tier Rochdale on Wednesday.

Tottenham had an early goal disallowed by the VAR, who then awarded them a penalty in their fifth-round replay at a snowy Wembley Stadium.

That spot-kick was converted by Son Heung-min, only for referee Paul Tierney to chalk off his effort and book the player for stopping during his run-up, leaving the match balanced at 1-1 at halftime, with emotions on the pitch running high.

"It was so complicated because of the new system, it was difficult to keep focus on the game," Pochettino told the BBC.

"I told the players to keep focused at halftime. The circumstances were difficult. I think we have the best referees in Europe or the world but I don't know if this system will help them or cause more confusion," the Argentine added.

"It is a game of emotion. If we are going to kill this emotion I think we are going to change the game."

The FA Cup is one of a number of competitions around the world, including Serie A and the Bundesliga, which are trialling VAR this season.

These trials, however, have not gone entirely smoothly with arguments among supporters and pundits often focusing on the length of time it takes for decisions to be made and how fans are left in the dark about the reasons behind them.

FIFA president Gianni Infantino has said that he wants to use VARs at the World Cup in Russia this year and law-making body IFAB is expected to decide on Saturday whether to authorise its use on a permanent basis.

Pochettino's sympathies lie with the referees having to work with the new system and with fans in the stands.

"It's difficult for the referee," Pochettino said.

"I feel so sorry for the referee and more I feel sorry for the fans because it's so difficult to understand the situation.

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