Tottenham eases into FA Cup quarters despite VAR confusion
LONDON (AP) — Fernando Llorente scored a 12-minute hat trick as Tottenham beat third-tier Rochdale 6-1 in an FA Cup fifth-round replay dominated by referrals to the video assistant referee on Wednesday.
Son Heung-min netted two goals and substitute Kyle Walker-Peters grabbed the other in injury time for a weakened Spurs team at a snowy Wembley Stadium.
Tottenham will play away to Swansea in the quarterfinals on March 17 as the team goes in search a first trophy under coach Mauricio Pochettino.
More than five minutes of injury time was played in the first half following the frequent use of the VAR that left fans, players and coaches confused and increasingly angry.
“The first half was a little bit embarrassing for everyone,” Pochettino said. “It was difficult to stay focused on the football.”
Tottenham had two goals ruled out by the VAR, one a penalty converted by Son that was chalked off because the South Korea forward was adjudged to have feinted at the end of his run-up before taking his spot-kick. Son was booked for the offense and Rochdale awarded a free kick.
There were boos from the crowd at halftime, apparently targeted at the match officials, even though this was the first time in English soccer that a big screen inside the stadium pointed out that VAR was being used officials.
“Doesn’t matter what the result is,” former Tottenham and Argentina midfielder Osvaldo Ardiles tweeted during the second half, “VAR is making the best game in the world and the game we love so much degenerate into a farce. Just a mockery of a game.”
Pochettino added: “I know how football was born, that is why we love the game we know. Football is a contest of emotion; if we are going to keep emotion in football, I think fans are not so happy with what we have seen today.”
Llorente scored a so-called “perfect” hat trick — a goal with his right foot, left foot, and head — soon after halftime as Tottenham finally pulled clear of a team that is in last place in England’s third tier.
Stephen Humphrys had canceled out Son’s 23rd-minute goal to keep Rochdale in the hunt for an upset.
However, Llorente chipped the goalkeeper to make it 2-1 in the 47th, tapped in from close range from Lucas Moura’s cut-back in the 53rd for 3-1, then headed in Son’s cross in the 59th.
Son added a fifth in the 65th off Lamela’s square ball, before Walker-Peters wrapped up the scoring with his first goal for Tottenham.
The teams drew 2-2 in the original game 10 days ago.