Chelsea manager Frank Lampard said Tottenham midfielder Giovani lo Celso should have been sent off for a “leg-breaker” tackle on Cesar Azpilicueta and that the decision leaves “another huge question mark over VAR”.
Lo Celso stood on Azpilicueta’s shin when tackled by the full-back 52 minutes into the Blues’ 2-1 victory at Stamford Bridge on Saturday.
The video assistant referee deemed the incident not worthy of a red card.
“That is just so wrong,” said Lampard.
“Referees have such a difficult job and VAR was brought in to help them. I hate to call for red cards but that is a leg-breaker of a tackle.”
After on-field referee Michael Oliver did not discipline Lo Celso, the incident was reviewed by David Coote at the VAR base in Stockley Park, west London.
Lampard said: “It is a clear human decision – straight to Stockley Park, red card, game goes on but that one was wrong.”
During the game, BBC Radio 5 Live’s Mark Chapman was given a statement by the Professional Game Match Officials Board – the body responsible for Premier League referees
He said: “I have a statement 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.”
After the game finished, Chapman tweeted the station had spoken to Stockley Park 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.
Azpilicueta was as surprised as his manager that Lo Celso was not sent off.
“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 Jose Mourinho 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.
Olivier Giroud and Marcos Alonso scored the Blues’ goals against Spurs, with Antonio Rudiger deflecting in a late consolation for the visitors.
‘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!