Var still not up to Conte's mark

Top: Chelsea's back-up goalkeeper Willy Caballero saving a penalty kick from Norwich City striker Nelson Oliveira, the Canaries' first penalty taker. The Blues prevailed 5-3 in the shoot-out. Above: Chelsea's Willian is shown a yellow card for simula
Chelsea's back-up goalkeeper Willy Caballero saving a penalty kick from Norwich City striker Nelson Oliveira, the Canaries' first penalty taker. The Blues prevailed 5-3 in the shoot-out. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE PHOTO: REUTERS
Top: Chelsea's back-up goalkeeper Willy Caballero saving a penalty kick from Norwich City striker Nelson Oliveira, the Canaries' first penalty taker. The Blues prevailed 5-3 in the shoot-out. Above: Chelsea's Willian is shown a yellow card for simula
ot-out. Above: Chelsea's Willian is shown a yellow card for simulation by referee Graham Scott. His manager Antonio Conte was incensed by the decision.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE PHOTO: REUTERS

Chelsea manager unconvinced after penalty calls go against his side in FA Cup replay

LONDON • Antonio Conte has suggested that the video assistant referee (VAR), Mike Jones, was guilty of a "big, big mistake" after opting not to flag a potential penalty as Chelsea's FA Cup third-round replay victory over Norwich City descended into farcical scenes in extra-time on Wednesday.

The hosts, who eventually prevailed 5-3 on penalties after a 1-1 draw following extra time, were reduced to nine men as Pedro and Alvaro Morata were dismissed. Both were shown one of their two yellow cards for diving.

Blues midfielder Willian was also cautioned for going to ground in an incident with Timm Klose. Conte watched a replay of that challenge early in extra-time and was insistent it should have resulted in a spot-kick, but the VAR apparently decided no clear and obvious error had occurred.

"If we want to use a new system, I can't accept a big mistake," the Chelsea manager said. "In this case, the Willian penalty was a big, big mistake. Not from the referee ( Graham Scott) on the pitch, who took quickly a decision to book Willian and didn't have any doubt, but from the person watching the game (Jones).

"I hope the VAR wasn't a referee because if you see that watching on television and don't think that's a penalty... he has to improve. It was very clear.

"At least to avoid a big mistake, (the VAR has) to call the referee and tell him, 'Look, maybe this situation there is a doubt. For me it's no penalty, but it's better you go and watch it, and then take the final decision'."

Several pundits agreed that a penalty should have been awarded.

Former England striker Alan Shearer told the BBC: "You saw VAR work perfectly last night (when Leicester were awarded a goal against Fleetwood after an offside decision was reversed). You're seeing why I was very doubtful about it now.

"It's a shambles because you've got one, two, three, four ex-footballers in here, Jermaine Jenas, five, and we all think that is a clear and obvious penalty and he even books him for diving!

"Who on earth is looking at that screen at Stockley Park (Premier League studios HQ) and doesn't think that's a penalty? Now, that's why it's all wrong because it's somebody else's opinion and that's why it's a shambles."

Klose admitted after the match he had caught Willian.

Norwich left-back Jamal Lewis' last-gasp equaliser cancelled out Michy Batshuayi's opener to force the penalty shoot-out. Chelsea goalkeeper Willy Caballero made the crucial save from Nelson Oliveira to send the Blues through to host Newcastle in the fourth round.

It was Chelsea's first win this year, having drawn their four previous matches in all competitions.

Norwich manager Daniel Farke said: "To be honest, it's a big disappointment. Some of the lads are sitting with tears in their eyes in the dressing room."

THE GUARDIAN, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 19, 2018, with the headline 'Var still not up to Conte's mark'. Print Edition | Subscribe