Late leveler, VAR confusion, red cards before Chelsea wins
LONDON (AP) — After being stunned by a late equalizer, Chelsea was left bewildered and infuriated over the experimental video referees.
And as frustration grew over the lack of winner against Norwich in the FA Cup, so did the number of dives by Chelsea players.
Chelsea finished Wednesday’s third-round replay with nine men after Pedro Rodriguez and Alvaro Morata saw red in the frenzied conclusion with the teams locked at 1-1. Chelsea did eventually prevail on penalties against the second-tier visitors, winning 5-3 to advance to the fourth round in the rain at Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea manager Antonio Conte was relieved but also seeking answers about the role of video assistant referees and how on-field official Graham Scott was consulting them. Scott certainly didn’t go over to a monitor to assess decisions himself.
“If we want to improve,” Conte said, “we have to wait to check with the person who is watching the game and then (see) if this person is sure 100 percent that it is simulation.”
Chelsea had looked all set for the fourth round thanks to Michy Batshuayi’s strike 10 minutes into the second half that ended the west London team’s goal drought of more than 5½ hours.
But Norwich produced an equalizer with almost the last kick of regulation time. Timm Klose crossed from the left flank and Jamal Lewis evaded Davide Zappacosta to guide a header into the roof of the net.
There was confusion at the start of extra time when Chelsea midfielder Willian was booked for diving rather than being awarded a penalty after being clipped by Klose. Was the decision by referees across west London at the match control center? It’s unclear.
“The Willian penalty was a big, big mistake,” Conte said. “To avoid a big mistake you have to call the referee and to say, ‘Oh look, maybe this situation this is a doubt. It’s better if you go to watch.’
“Otherwise we cut the power to the referee on the pitch, and that is not right.”
The red cards were shown in the final four minutes.
Pedro received a second yellow card for fouling Wes Hoolahan after already receiving a caution for diving. Then Morata was booked for simulation and again for remonstrating.
“If there is diving, it’s right to take a yellow card. I don’t want an advantage,” Conte said. “I’m not happy for the second yellow card to Morata. The second yellow card was for dissent and you must pay attention, to stay calm and make the best decision.”
Conte berated the match officials as the teams prepared for the shootout, when the hosts converted all their kicks but Nelson Oliveira’s miss for Norwich proved costly. Eden Hazard took the penalty that sealed a fourth-round meeting with Newcastle.
In northern England, there was a success Wednesday for lower-league opposition as third-tier Wigan beat Premier League side Bournemouth 3-0 with goals from Sam Morsy, Dan Burn and Callum Elder.
It is five years since Wigan became the first team to win the FA Cup and be relegated from the Premier League in the same season. Wigan will play West Ham in the fourth round.
Swansea eliminated second-tier leader Wolverhampton with a 2-1 victory to set up a trip to Notts County.
The opening goal from Jordan Ayew evoked memories of Ricky Villa’s acclaimed 1981 FA Cup final goal for Tottenham with the Swansea forward evading six challenges before slotting into the Wolves net. In the second half, Diogo Jota equalized but Wilfried Bony secured Swansea’s passage into the fourth round.