Ange Postecoglou complained that VAR had reduced the authority of referees after watching nine-man Tottenham lose to Chelsea for the first time in the Premier League.
It was a frantic encounter between the two rivals that saw five disallowed goals, two red cards, a penalty and two Spurs players sent off in the first half due to injury, with Mauricio Pochettino marking his return to north London with a memorable win the score was 4–1. .
But the match was dominated by VAR intervention and two of the nine decisions went to the video referee with red cards.
Even with nine men, the hosts continued to steer the game in Chelsea’s favor and were in good form before Nicholas Jackson crossed twice over the top line in stoppage time to score his side’s third and fourth goals and complete an unlikely hat-trick.
Postecoglou’s side had a comfortable lead in the first half before Cristian Romero was red carded in the 33rd minute, sent off for a dangerous challenge on Enzo Fernandez and conceded a penalty before Cole Palmer equalized with Dejan Kulusevski’s deflected goal.
Destiny Udogi was also sent off in the 55th minute, receiving a second yellow card for a foul on Raheem Sterling, but another 20 minutes passed before Chelsea finally took the lead for the first time through Jackson.
Spurs’ evening was complicated by the loss of James Maddison and Mickey van de Ven to injury, with Romero likely to be suspended for three games.
But it was the impact of VAR that dominated Postecoglou’s thoughts after the game, after 21 minutes were added at the end of each half.
“It’s difficult to analyze from a football point of view,” he said.
“We had a disappointing result, but we are very proud of the players’ efforts, their will and desire to get something out of the game.
“(VAR’s long pause) will become the norm, I think that’s where the game is heading. Unfortunately, this is how we will now have to watch and participate in football.
“I do not like it. I don’t like standing around, the whole theater around, waiting for a decision. But I know I’m in the wild in this regard.
“At 26 years old, I have always been willing to accept a referee’s decision, good, bad or not, and I have had a few shocks in my career. I also got something.
“I can handle it because I just want the game to be played. But when we complain about decisions every week, this is what happens.
“People will scrutinize everything to make sure they’re sure it’s right, and even at the end of it we’re still not happy.
“It simply diminishes the authority of the referee. You can’t tell me that the referees control the game. They are not. The control is beyond that, but that’s where the game develops. You have to accept it and try to deal with it.”
Pochettino spoke of a game in which, despite many controversial decisions, he felt his team had earned a deserved victory.
“I think we deserved to win,” he said.
“We made them make too many mistakes. Tottenham were better in the first 15 minutes, but then we equalized. Our performance was good.
“Everything that can be seen during the game, I think is fair. We compare Tottenham’s game with Liverpool, a similar game to today. Liverpool complained. But today everything that happened was fair. So I think 4-1, the game was good.”