London (AFP) – Fernando Llorente scored a second-half hat-trick as Tottenham Hotspur advanced into the quarter-finals of the FA Cup with a 6-1 win over lowly Rochdale at a snowy Wembley on Wednesday in a fifth-round replay.
The match had threatened to be overshadowed by fresh controversy involving the Video Assistant Referee, who was repeatedly called upon in a first half that ended level at 1-1.
But Llorente’s treble put the result beyond doubt with Son Heung-Min, who had opened the scoring on the night, making it 5-1 in the 65th minute.
Spurs, eight-times FA Cup winners, will now be away to Premier League rivals Swansea in the quarter-finals as they continue their quest to win a first major trophy since lifting the English League Cup in 2008.
Third-tier strugglers Rochdale were unchanged from the side that held Spurs to a 2-2 draw in the original tie while Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino made nine changes from the side which snatched a 1-0 league win at Crystal Palace last time out.
Spurs thought they had taken an early lead thanks to Erik Lamela’s close-range finish.
But referee Paul Tierney, after consulting the VAR, ruled it out for what appeared to be a foul by Spanish striker Llorente on Harrison McGahey in the build-up.
Tierney consulted the VAR, being trialled in English cup competitions this season, again to deny Lucas Moura a penalty but Spurs did take the lead soon afterwards when Son slotted home in the 23rd minute.
With Harry Kane on the bench, Son was Spurs’ designated penalty-taker.
He got a chance from the spot when, after another lengthy VAR consultation, Tottenham were awarded a penalty for a foul by Matt Done on Kieran Trippier.
The South Korea star then put the penalty into the back of the net but Tierney disallowed the ‘goal’ because Son had stopped in his run-up before striking the penalty.
Pochettino’s furious mood on the touchline would not have been improved when Rochdale equalised in the 31st minute, with Stephen Humphrys latching on to a fine ball over the top from Andy Cannon before shooting past Michel Vorm in the Spurs goal.
Cannon was then desperately unlucky to hit the post just before the break before Llorente ended any thoughts of a huge upset early in the second half.
He made it 2-1 in the 47th minute when he chipped over goalkeeper Josh Lillis from Moura’s through ball.