Football

Pochettino slams 'embarrassing' VAR after Wembley win

Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino said the controversial Video Assistant Referee (VAR) system had been "embarrassing" after his side came through an incident-packed FA Cup fifth-round replay against Rochdale at Wembley yesterday morning (Singapore time).

Spurs, who eventually won 6-1 on the back of a second-half hat-trick from Fernando Llorente, were twice denied goals, had one penalty claim rejected and another accepted on the word of the VAR.

Pochettino's joy at seeing Spurs set up a quarter-final with Swansea was tempered by his concern about the impact on the game of VAR, which is being trialled in English cup competitions this season, reported AFP.

"The first half was embarrassing for everyone," he said.

"I'm not sure that system is going to help. Football is about emotions but, if we are going to kill emotions, then people who love football will not be happy."

There have been suggestions the VAR could be deployed at this year's World Cup in Russia, with a decision set to be made tomorrow.

But Pochettino insisted: "Football is about to make a mistake.When we watched the action at half-time, it was difficult to take some decisions.

"The referee always has the last word. My worry is now we are talking about a machine and not football."

Spurs thought they had taken an early lead thanks to Erik Lamela's close-range finish.

But referee Paul Tierney, after consulting the VAR-manning Graham Scott, ruled it out for what appeared to be the slightest of contacts by Spanish striker Llorente on Harrison McGahey in the build-up.

Tierney consulted the VAR again to deny Lucas Moura a penalty, but Spurs did take the lead soon afterwards when Son Heung Min slotted home in the 23rd minute.

After another lengthy VAR consultation, Tottenham were awarded a penalty for a foul by Matt Done on Kieran Trippier. Son then put the penalty into the back of the net, only for Tierney to disallow the effort because Son had stopped in his run-up.

"The decisions the VAR makes need to be explained to the supporters," said Rochdale manager Keith Hill.

"We have to come up with a way to let people in the stadium know what's happening."

Former EPL referee Graham Poll wrote in his Daily Mail column that, while the VAR awarded Spurs a penalty that they would not been given otherwise (the penalty earned by Trippier), Tottenham had a goal disallowed that should have stood (the Lamela goal).

He said: "As this game showed, the problem with VAR is that it creates as many problems as it solves... If not more."

Mark Halsey, another former EPL referee, also felt that Lamela had a "perfectly good goal" disallowed.

"It wasn't a clear error. It was a perfectly good goal. I don't know why it was referred to the VAR in the first place."

Meanwhile Spurs fullback Danny Rose said the VAR was "shambolic" and an "absolute disgrace".

"We got the job done under shambolic circumstances," Rose told talkSPORT radio.

"An absolute disgrace, waiting around for I don't know how many minutes to get a decision. It's just laughable."

Football