'Best league, worst officials': Warnock rages over Cardiff's controversial defeat

Cardiff City's English manager Neil Warnock gestures on the touchline during the EPL football match between Cardiff City and Chelsea at Cardiff City Stadium in Cardiff, south Wales on March 31, 2019. PHOTO: AFP

CARDIFF (AFP) - Cardiff manager Neil Warnock admitted he was so angry with his side's controversial defeat against Chelsea that he might play a weakened team at Manchester City on Wednesday (April 3).

Warnock was furious that Chelsea defender Cesar Azpilicueta was allowed to head a late equaliser from a clearly offside position as the Blues hit back to win 2-1 on Sunday (March 31).

Relegation-threatened Cardiff had been leading with just six minutes left, but Azpilicueta's goal was followed by more controversy as Chelsea defender Antonio Rudiger escaped a red card despite hauling down Kenneth Zohore.

Cardiff also felt they could have had two penalties, but it was Chelsea who took the points through Ruben Loftus-Cheek's stoppage-time header.

"It hurts. The referee had a decent game but we didn't get the major decisions. The linesman, though...It is so disappointing. Chelsea know they have got away with murder today," Warnock said.

"When you don't win and it is nothing to do with ourselves it is a kick in the teeth.

"Against the big teams you have to have VAR because you don't get the big decisions.

"The equalising goal is the winning goal really, and if you can't see across the line and see offside I don't know why we are in the game.

"I look at the two penalties we should have had and the red card against Kenneth Zohore.

"The biggest and best league in the world but probably the worst officials at the minute."

Cardiff are five points from safety but have a game in hand at title-chasing City in midweek.

After being denied a chance to close the gap on their relegation rivals, Warnock claimed he might even surrender the points by fielding his youngest players in a match they are likely to lose anyway against Pep Guardiola's side.

While Warnock is likely to change his mind once his anger subsides, his team selection will be closely monitored by Liverpool, who are fighting with City for the title.

"We keep getting knock-backs, I will probably play the U23s on Wednesday against Manchester City and try to keep it down to 10 or 11," Warnock said.

"It doesn't matter who you play at the minute, it is who has a flag in his hand and who has a whistle." Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri conceded his team had been fortunate to escape with three points that kept their top four bid alive.

Blues fans chanted for the under-fire Sarri to be sacked in the second half before their comeback gave him a little breathing space.

"They were probably unhappy for the result. I can understand, I can understand very well. I am getting used to this," Sarri said.

"We were a little bit nervous. We didn't play well in the first half and we conceded a stupid goal.

"In the end we deserved to win. I don't know if the goal was offside, I have to see the situation. Sometimes we can be lucky."

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