Tottenham 6-1 Rochdale: Fernando Llorente nets hat-trick but VAR confusion dominates
By Gerard Brand at Wembley
Last Updated: 01/03/18 6:21am
Fernando Llorente scored a hat-trick as Tottenham cruised to the FA Cup quarter-finals with a 6-1 win over Rochdale in a replay littered with VAR controversy at Wembley.
After Erik Lamela had an opener controversially disallowed in the snowy conditions by VAR, Heung-Min Son put Spurs ahead (23) with a finish from inside the box.
Spurs were then given a penalty, eventually awarded by VAR, but Son's successful finish was penalised by referee Paul Tierney, seemingly for a stuttered end to his run-up, despite differing interpretations to the rule.
Stephen Humphrys levelled for Rochdale (31), who hit the post before the break, but Spurs gained a three-goal cushion through Llorente's quick-fire hat-trick (47, 53, 59) after the break.
Tottenham: Vorm (6), Trippier (6), Dier (6), Foyth (6), Rose (6), Sissoko (7), Winks (5), Lamela (7), Son (7), Lucas (8), Llorente (8)
Subs: Alli (6), Dembele (6), Walker-Peters (6)
Rochdale: Lillis (5), Rafferty (5), McNulty (5), McGahey (5), Humphrys (5), Camps (5), Done (6), Delaney (5), Cannon (6), Kitching (5), Henderson (6)
Subs: Thompson (5), Davies (5), Adshead (5)
Man of the match: Fernando Llorente
Son's close-range finish made it 5-1 with 25 minutes remaining, before substitute Kyle Walker-Peters added a sixth (90+3), with Spurs' reward a trip to Swansea on March 17.
The VAR, Graham Scott, in Stockley Park was in use in just the seventh minute as Lamela struck home from close range, but replays showed Llorente had tugged Harrison McGahey's shirt in the box as referee Tierney ruled it out.
Lucas Moura then looked to have been brought down in the box by McGahey, but despite a VAR check, Tierney waved play on. Son finally put Spurs ahead from 15 yards shortly after via Lamela's assist.
Wembley then descended into confusion as Kieran Trippier was fouled on the edge of the box by Matt Done, but after deliberation with the VAR, Tierney awarded a penalty, deeming that the foul continued inside the box.
Spurs made nine changes from the side that beat Palace 1-0 on Sunday; Son and Dier started, but Kane, Eriksen and Dembele were on the bench. Rochdale made two changes after the defeat by Wigan at the weekend.
Son stepped up, stuttered towards the end of his kick and scored, but referee Tierney ruled the spot kick out and booked Son for an illegal feign, a rare and bizarre sight which created mass confusion among home fans and visible anger in Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino.
FA rule on feigning penalty run-up
“Feinting in the run-up to take a penalty kick to confuse opponents is permitted as part of football. However, feinting to kick the ball once the player has completed his run-up is considered an infringement of Law 14 and an act of unsporting behaviour for which the player must be cautioned.”
Rochdale then equalised moments later through Humphrys, converting from close range from Andy Cannon's fine ball as Spurs were caught sleeping, before Cannon himself hit the post with a low drive in first-half stoppage time.
However, Spurs came out in the second half and steam-rolled the League One side, taking the lead through Llorente's lifted finish over Josh Lillis, and he got his second goal six minutes later, poking home from Lucas' fine assist.
Llorente completed his 13-minute hat-trick with a close-range header from Son's lifted cross at the byline, and the South Korean turned goalscorer shortly after, tapping into an empty net from Lamela's unselfish ball across goal.
Lamela hit the post with a late free-kick, but there was still time for Walker-Peters to grab his first Spurs goal in stoppage time, nudging under Lillis after a one-two with Dele Alli.
Mauricio Pochettino: "The first half was a little bit embarrassing for everyone. Difficult to keep focus and play football. I am not sure that the system is going to help.
"Football is about emotion, it's a context of emotion if we are going to kill emotion in football. I think the fans of people who love football are not so happy about what they see today. I think in my opinion we have the best referees in Europe, in the world, and I think we don't need too much."
Keith Hill: "Didn't you enjoy it? No?! Wow! I enjoyed it. I thought it was superb. I was really excited, it was an education, the VAR. I understand it more now, how it works, I feel the ref needs protecting, I feel the decisions made need to be explained to supporters in the way they were explained to me and Poch by the fourth official.
"So I was really excited. For me, I was just totally immersed in that first half, and it didn't seem as though it lasted 10 minutes! It was like speed football, I thought it was amazing, I really did."
Man of the match - Fernando Llorente
In the midst of the VAR chaos came a fine performance from the Spaniard, who has struggled for confidence since joining Spurs.
His 13-minute hat-trick killed the game off and had opposing manager Keith Hill marveling, with the League One side struggling to get near Llorente inside the box.
Llorente held the ball up well, linking up with both Son and Lamela as Spurs moved into fifth gear after the break.
Spurs now host Huddersfield on Saturday in the Premier League, before the second leg of their Champions League last-16 clash with Juventus at Wembley on Wednesday, with the score at 2-2. Rochdale host Plymouth on Saturday in League One.
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