Tottenham overcame a shambolic, VAR-dominated first half to beat Rochdale 6-1 in their fifth-round FA Cup replay.
A wintry Wembley witnessed a Fernando Llorente hat-trick, his first in six years, on top of a Heung-Min Son brace and a late strike from young full-back Kyle Walker-Peters.
However, a visibly frustrated Mauricio Pochettino might have felt his side actually scored eight legitimate goals, with confusion reigning as referee Paul Tierney continually held his hand to his ear to consult with the video assistant referee.
Erik Lamela’s goal was disallowed because of an apparent Llorente foul when it looked like six of one and half a dozen of the other in his tussle with the Dale defence.
Son then had his penalty – which had originally been given as a free-kick outside the box – ruled out after the South Korean feinted in the run-up.
It was little surprise that many of the 24,627 fans who braved the cold at the national stadium booed the half-time whistle, with the scores then level at 1-1 thanks to Stephen Humphrys’ equaliser.
Those watching at home didn’t have much more idea of what was going on. VAR was all anyone could talk about at the interval, and there seemed to be genuine worry among the pundits that the system threatens to damage the emotion and excitement of watching live football.
Crucially, though, Alan Shearer pointed out with his tweets that VAR wasn’t even being used properly.
In the case of Llorente’s supposed foul, the video assistant referee is only supposed to intervene when a “clear and obvious error” has been made.
As Shearer suggests, that was not the case, and he posted another disdainful review of VAR at full-time:
While it levelled the playing field somewhat at first, Tottenham’s quality eventually shone through, shattering Rochdale’s Wembley dream and leaving the League One outfit to focus their attention back on surviving in the third tier.
Yet, at least they were the participants of a truly memorable FA Cup tie, albeit for the wrong reasons.
Kieran Trippier, who won Son’s penalty, voiced his disbelief on BT Sport afterwards.
“It was crazy,” he said, quoted via Goal.
“Obviously the decisions took some momentum out of the game but the referee has to make the decision so we have to wait.”
Should VAR be scrapped altogether? Let us know in the comments.