London (AFP) – 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.