Chelsea boss Frank Lampard said Tottenham’s Giovani Lo Celso should have been awarded a red card by the video assistant referee for his “leg breaker” tackle on Cesar Azpilicueta and the decision leaves “another huge question mark over VAR”.
“I hate to call for red cards but that is a leg breaker of a tackle,” Lampard said after Chelsea’s 2-1 win over Spurs.
“Referees have such a difficult job and VAR was brought in to help them, that is just so wrong today.”
The incident between Lo Celso and Azpilicueta happened after 52 minutes, with the Tottenham midfielder appearing to stand on the Chelsea full-back’s shin.
After a long review, VAR decided the offence didn’t warrant a sending off and Jose Mourinho’s side remained at full strength.
Lampard added: “This one didn’t need a monitor. It is a clear human decision – straight to Stockley Park, red card, game goes on but that one was wrong.”
Azpilicueta shared his manager’s surprise Lo Celso was not made to leave the field for the dangerous challenge.
“I’m not a player that likes to be on the floor because I’m tough,” said Azpilicueta. “But it was not my fault because it was a clear stamp on my shin, I felt it straight away.
“I was surprised it was not a red card, not even a yellow card. Obviously everybody makes mistakes but when you have a lot of replays it could be easier.”
Tottenham boss Mourinho, however, had little to say on the controversy. “I didn’t watch it,” the Portuguese said. “I didn’t watch on TV and in the game. I don’t know.”
Chelsea were also left with a sense of injustice after their defeat by Manchester United on Monday, when VAR failed to issue a red card to United’s Harry Maguire for kicking Michy Batshuayi.
During Saturday’s game, BBC Radio 5 Live’s Mark Chapman said on air: “I have a statement from PGMOL [Professional Game Match Officials Board] on why that wasn’t a red card… give me strength… not a clear and obvious error because the VAR didn’t feel there was anywhere else for Lo Celso to put his foot.”
Following the final whistle, the presenter confirmed in a tweet the station had spoken to Stockley Park again and on reflection “they did think the tackle was a red card”.
“They do want to reiterate it was a human being making a decision on a subjective event, but also said the challenge did ‘tick the boxes’ of being a red card,” Chapman tweeted.
‘VAR is an absolute joke’ – pundits and your reaction on #bbcfootball
Dion Dublin on BBC Radio 5 Live: “What are they seeing at Stockley Park that we’re not? Lo Celso’s nowhere near the ball, no intent to play the ball, and it’s with anger.”
Andy Reid on BBC Radio 5 Live: “It’s a definite sending off. It’s not a great tackle and you can see why Cesar Azpilicueta was in so much pain.”
Mo: How is that not a Red… again VAR officials leave me speechless.
Theo Bowyer: Think that is the clearest red card you will see… VAR is an absolute joke. Scared to override the referee even when it’s blatant.
Ruz: As a Spurs fan, I have to say Lo Celso should be sent off. That’s a simply awful ‘challenge’ and how VAR doesn’t see that as serious foul play is beyond me.
Rob: Expecting the usual criticism of VAR over the red card… VAR did its job; it captured an incident you could easily miss in real time. The problem is incompetence; there is an official at the other end somehow deciding that it’s not a red card. VAR or no VAR, the standard of refereeing is the problem.
Alex: I’m amazed Azpi isn’t leaving on a stretcher. Not so amazed none of us can understand the VAR decision. It’d be funny if it wasn’t so dangerous.
Greg: No way a red card. Lo Celso is putting his foot on the ground, as anyone would do. Chelsea player slides in, putting his leg where Lo Celso is expecting to meet turf. He had no other place to put his foot. #VAR got it right!