Chelsea survived a scare to advance in the FA Cup at the expense of Norwich on a night which heaped scrutiny on the Video Assistant Referee system which was labelled a “shambles”.
Former England captain Alan Shearer, working as a pundit for the BBC, criticised the decision of match referee Graham Scott not to consult VAR Mike Jones over Timm Klose’s challenge on Willian early in the first period of extra time.
“It’s a shambles,” Shearer said on BBC One.
“We all think that’s an obvious penalty here, and he’s booked him for diving?
“Who on earth is looking at that screen at Stockley Park? What a shocking decision that is.”
Chelsea prevailed 5-3 on penalties to set up a fourth-round tie with Newcastle, but only after three players were booked for diving – with Pedro and Alvaro Morata subsequently sent off.
Blues head coach Antonio Conte was furious over the Willian decision on a night which at times bordered on farce and was full of chaos.
Conte felt Jones should have suggested Scott, who as on-field referee has the final say, review the incident on the pitchside monitor.
“The Willian penalty was a big, big mistake,” Conte said.
“I hope this wasn’t a referee (as VAR). If you don’t see this when you’re watching TV, maybe when you’re on the pitch it would be impossible to see this type of situation.
“I watched it in the changing room and I think it was very clear.
“It was a big mistake. To avoid a big mistake you have to call the referee and to say: ‘Oh look, maybe this situation this is a doubt. It’s better if you go to watch’.
“Otherwise we cut the power to the referee on the pitch, and that is not right.
“If we want to improve – it’s only to try and improve the system – we have to wait to check with the person who is watching the game and then, if this person is sure 100 per cent that it is simulation,
go and book Willian.”
The Premier League champions thought they had won for the first time in 2018 as Michy Batshuayi was on target in Wednesday night’s FA Cup third-round replay at Stamford Bridge.
But Jamal Lewis headed in Klose’s cross in the fourth minute of stoppage time for 1-1 and to force extra time.
And penalties followed, with Willy Caballero saving from Nelson Oliveira before Eden Hazard made sure of Chelsea’s triumph.
Norwich boss Daniel Farke was reluctant to comment on the controversies, as he had not watched the incidents again, but he is not a VAR fan.
“I didn’t watch the scenes back and I don’t want to judge it at all. There were some close decisions in both boxes,” he said.
“I’m a bit old fashioned. I like more the traditional game and when football is simple.
“It’s a good idea, but it’s a bit tricky to handle.”
Neymar scored four times while Edinson Cavani equalled Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s Paris Saint-Germain all-time goalscoring record as the runaway Ligue 1 leaders thrashed Dijon 8-0 on Wednesday night.
Angel Di Maria struck twice inside the opening quarter-hour at the Parc des Princes before the Argentine provided the cross for Cavani to net his 156th PSG goal.
Neymar marked his return from a rib injury with the hosts’ fourth just before half-time, and the Brazilian made it a hat-trick with two more second-half strikes as Dijon were mercilessly ripped apart.
Kylian Mbappe piled on further misery for the visitors 13 minutes from time before Neymar notched his fourth of the evening from the penalty spot — denying Cavani the chance to make club history and eliciting whistles from home supporters.
“(Cavani) is our goalscorer and he’s improved a lot here. The team helped him to achieve this individual mark,” said PSG coach Unai Emery, who was quick to defend Neymar’s decision to take the spot-kick.
“I think Neymar took the penalty because it was also a good day for him. We’re happy with it. But there will be lots more chances for Cavani to score more goals.”
Argentine Di Maria, who grabbed the winner in Sunday’s 1-0 victory at Nantes, needed just four minutes in Paris to put the home team ahead with a stunning left-footed strike into the top corner.
The former Real Madrid and Manchester United winger added a second when he applied the final touch after Neymar lifted the ball over Dijon goalkeeper Baptiste Reynet following a ball through from Cavani.
The Uruguayan then netted his league-best 20th goal of the season by heading in a right-wing cross from Di Maria, pulling level with the record Ibrahimovic set across four seasons in the French capital.
Neymar made it 4-0 on 42 minutes with a sublime free-kick, with the world’s most expensive player pouncing on a miscued clearance to double his tally just before the hour.
He then struck a sensational third goal of the night with a run that beat several Dijon defenders and culminated in a crisp low drive from the edge of the area.
Neymar released Mbappe as the teenager scored within five minutes of replacing Di Maria, while the Brazilian rounded out a record home win for PSG from the spot after Cavani tumbled to the ground.
“It was a very, very good PSG against a Dijon side that unfortunately didn’t put up much resistance. We were almost perfect today,” PSG defender Thomas Meunier told Canal+.
PSG have yet to drop a point at home this season and lead Lyon by 11 points, with a trip to face Bruno Genesio’s men next up for the league leaders at the weekend.
Nabil Fekir scored his 15th goal of the campaign as Lyon defeated Guingamp 2-0, with 19-year-old midfielder Houssem Aouar also on target at the Stade du Roudourou.
“Nabil’s performance was extraordinary. He’s been on a roll since the start of the season. He’s at an international level and doing it consistently, which is a good sign for us,” Genesio said.
Claudio Ranieri’s Nantes conceded a last-gasp penalty in a 1-1 draw at Toulouse, as Max-Alain Gradel salvaged a point for the hosts by cancelling out a first-half header from Slovenia international Rene Krhin.
Yann M’Vila endured a chastening return to French football as his Saint-Etienne debut ended in a 3-0 defeat at bottom side Metz, who won for the third time in four outings.
Lionel Messi saw a penalty saved and Espanyol sub Oscar Melendo found the net with two minutes left to play as Barcelona lost their first game since August.
Speaking to fcbarcelona.com, Valverde said the saved penalty “may have been the turning point”.
He added: “I liked my team a lot. They had a good attitude and had the game under control, but we didn’t manage to convert the many chances we had.
“In turn, Espanyol defended well, corrected their mistakes and took their chance. I congratulate them and we’ll meet again in a week’s time.
“I hope to see the Camp Nou like it was the day against Celta, with the fans behind the team and helping us to mount a comeback. It’ll be a nice game.”
Espanyol boss Quique Sanchez Flores was full of praise for Melendo.
Speaking to the club’s official website, he said: “He is with us since his youth. That he scores and signs the victory is fantastic.
“He is a mentally strong boy and it is fantastic that he has been able to knock down FC Barcelona with a goal.
“The guys have understood the game phenomenally.”
The second leg takes place on January 25.