Fernando Llorente treble sends Spurs through to FA Cup quarter-finals with 6-1 win over Rochdale, but VAR takes centre stage at Wembley
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FA Cup fifth-round replay: Tottenham Hotspur 6 Rochdale 1
A hat-trick from Fernando Llorente helped Tottenham Hotspur book their spot in the last-eight of the FA Cup with a 6-1 fifth-round replay success over Rochdale, but the game at Wembley was overshadowed by various VAR controversies.
Heung-min Son also grabbed a brace with Kyle Walker-Peters adding a late sixth, but only after Erik Lamela had been denied what appeared a legitimate goal in the opening exchanges of the match.
VAR ensured the Argentinean’s effort was ruled out and its overuse in the first half resulted in five minutes of stoppage time being added on at the end of the 45.
Come full time, it didn’t matter, but Mauricio Pochettino would have no doubt been left bemused by some of the decisions made throughout the contest at Wembley.
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The Spurs boss made nine changes to the team which started the 1-0 win at Crystal Palace on Sunday.
Eric Dier and Lamela retained their places while Davinson Sanchez, Mousa Dembele, Christian Eriksen, Dele Alli and Harry Kane dropped to the bench.
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The likes of Hugo Lloris, Serge Aurier, Ben Davies, Victor Wanyama were given the night off and players like Danny Rose, Juan Foyth, Mousa Sissoko, Harry Winks and Llorente were handed starts.
January recruit Lucas Moura was also given his home debut, having netted in the first game between the two clubs.
Keith Hill picked the exact same starting XI as he did for the original tie at Spotland on February 18 and the contest got underway with snow falling at the national stadium.
Spurs began brightly and thought they had taken the lead in the sixth minute when Lamela tapped in from close range after Josh Lillis saved Son’s effort.
VAR disallowed the goal, however, with Fernando Llorente understood to have committed a foul in the build-up to the goal.
Rochdale settled after the early drama and threatened the Tottenham goal on a couple of occasions before Pochettino’s men got back into their grove.
Moura had penalty appeals waved in the 21st minute and two minutes later Spurs did finally take the lead.
Kieran Trippier, Foyth and Lamela were all involved and the latter found Son inside the area and he cut inside two opponents before finding the net.
Tottenham pushed for a second and once again VAR took centre stage just before the half an hour mark.
Spurs initially won a free kick when Trippier was fouled, but VAR decided the foul had taken place inside the area and so a penalty was awarded.
After much deliberation, Son stepped up and beat Lillis, but because he stopped during his run, the goal was disallowed and the South Korean was handed a booking.
The bemusement inside Wembley had appeared to reach an all-time high, but the home fans were left stunned even more when Dale equalised in the 31st minute.
Andy Cannon lifted the ball over the top of the Spurs defence and Stephen Humphrys controlled and slotted home past Michel Vorm to level the scores.
There was still time for more thrills and spills in the first half with Lillis denying Lamela on two occasions before Cannon struck the post with a fine effort.
Five minutes of stoppage time was added on at the end of the 45, but it passed by without little to note as the score remained 1-1 at the break.
After a challenging first half, Pochettino would have been keen to help his players refocus during the interval and it worked a trick.
It took Spurs just two minutes to go back in front as Lamela and Moura combined with the Brazilian playing Llorente through and the former Juventus forward applied the perfect finish, lobbing over Lillis to make it 2-1 in the falling snow.
Tottenham and their Spanish striker weren’t finish there either, as five minutes later he grabbed another.
Moura did well again and after getting in behind the Dale defence, he cut back for Llorente, who poked home with 52 on the clock.
Spurs continued to cut open Rochdale and made the scoreline even greater in the 59th minute at a freezing Wembley.
Trippier played in Sissoko and he cut back for Son, who chipped in for Llorente to head home and complete his hat-trick.
After scoring only twice during his first 26 appearanes for Tottenham, the ex-Swansea City man had not bagged three goals in the space of 11 second half minutes.
Dembele was introduced soon after with Winks making way and the goals continued to flow in Brent.
Moura brought the ball forward, played Lamela in on the left and the Argentinean picked out Son for a simple tap-in in the 65th minute.
The South Korean made way three minutes later for Alli while by this point Dale had introduced Steven Davies for Humphrys and Joe Thompson for Mark Kitching with Thompson’s two successful battles with cancer well documented.
Lamela also made it six with 17 minutes to go, but his free kick struck the post and despite the rebound hitting Alli, Lillis saved.
Moura came off to a standing ovation with eight minutes to go as Walker-Peters was handed a rare outing.
Whilst the substitution took place, ground staff took the chance to sweep the pitch as the snow continued to fall heavily under the arch.
On the stroke of full time there was time for one more goal as Alli showed his class with a lovely pass into Walker-Peters and the academy graduate fired home his first goal for the club.
It was a memorable moment for the defender and the full time whistle followed moments later to confirm Spurs’ place in the quarter-finals.
Pochettino’s men will visit Swansea City on March 17 for a 12.15pm kick-off, but their immediate focus turns to Saturday where they host Huddersfield Town in the Premier League.
Tottenham Hotspur: Vorm; Trippier; Dier, Foyth, Rose; Sissoko, Winks (Dembele 62); Moura (Walker-Peters 82), Lamela, Son (Alli 68); Llorente.
Unused substitutes: Gazzaniga, Sanchez, Kane, Eriksen.
Rochdale: Lillis; McGahey, McNulty, Delaney; Rafferty, Cannon (Adshead 75), Camps, Kitching (Thompson 63), Done; Humphrys (Davies 58), Henderson.
Unused substitutes: Moore, Ntlhe, Rathbone, Inman.