LONDON, United Kingdom, Feb 22 – Frank Lampard blasted VAR on Saturday after Tottenham midfielder Giovani Lo Celso was not sent off for a “leg breaker” stamp on Cesar Azpilicueta in Chelsea’s 2-1 win over Spurs.
Blues boss Lampard was furious that Lo Celso’s ugly second half foul on Chelsea captain Azpilicueta was not punished with a red card by either referee Michael Oliver or VAR official David Coote in Stockley Park.
The VAR review concluded the challenge was not serious foul play, which would have triggered a dismissal but replays made it clear that was the wrong call.
The row came just days after Manchester United defender Harry Maguire was lucky to avoid a red card for kicking out at Chelsea’s Michy Batshuayi.
“It is not good enough, that is two VARs in two games, it is hard to shout about it when you have lost but today everybody saw that. It is a red,” Lampard said.
“I hate to call for red cards but that is a leg breaker. Everybody knew they made a mistake. I was just waiting for the red card to be shown.”
Adding to Lampard’s frustration, television broadcaster BT Sport later reported that VAR officials had told them Lo Celso should have been sent off.
Being told that Stockley Park had admitted the decision was wrong did not change Lampard’s view that the much-maligned VAR system needs an overhaul.
“It was a tackle that endangers a player, saying after that they made a mistake isn’t good enough,” he said.
“That’s what VAR was brought in for. It’s a huge question mark on VAR. This one doesn’t need the referee to go to the monitor, it’s a clear decision.”
Azpilicueta was able to finish the game but had ice strapped to his shin after the final whistle.
“I’m not a player that likes to be on the floor because I’m tough but it was not my fault because it was a clear stamp on my shin,” Azpilicueta told BT Sport.
– ‘Negative situation’ –
Tottenham manager Jose Mourinho unsurprisingly side-stepped questions about the tackle, preferring to reference previous VAR decisions that he felt went against his team.
“I hope the noise is exactly the same as when VAR killed us. There should have been a red card for Watford and Liverpool against us. Why didn’t they say they made a mistake then?” Mourinho said.
The latest VAR issue could not overshadow a crucial victory for fourth-placed Chelsea, who ended a four-match winless run to move four points clear of Tottenham in the race to qualify for the Champions League.
After reports that his position could be in danger if Chelsea’s recent slide continued, Lampard was rewarded for a bold gamble as he recalled fringe players Olivier Giroud and Marcos Alonso.
France striker Giroud, making his first start since November, opened the scoring with a fine finish for his first club goal since August.
Spanish left-back Alonso, back in the starting line-up for the first time since December, doubled Chelsea’s lead with a 20-yard drive after half-time.
Antonio Rudiger’s own goal came too late to deny Chelsea.
“I’m pleased, you always look clever when that comes off and get called an idiot when it doesn’t. I’m delighted for them both, they are both experienced lads and it’s not easy when they are not playing,” Lampard said.
After Tottenham’s three-game winning run in the league was ended at the hands of his old club, Mourinho admitted injuries to strikers Harry Kane and Son Heung-min have been too much for his team to handle.
“I have no complaints about my players that is for sure, with the power that we don’t have at this moment,” he said.
“It is an incredible negative situation. We have players trying to do miracles in positions that are not their own.”