Mauricio Pochettino branded the Video Assistant Referee system a “nightmare” after Tottenham cruised into the FA Cup semi-finals with a 3-0 win at Swansea.
A double from the outstanding Christian Eriksen and an Erik Lamela strike secured Spurs a last-four tie at their temporary Wembley home next month.
But the victory was not without controversy as, with Spurs 1-0 ahead, Son Heung-min’s 23rd-minute goal was ruled out for offside.
The incident was reviewed at length by VAR and, with the lines on the television proving inconclusive as to whether Son was offside or not, the original decision stood.
“It’s a nightmare. I feel so sorry for the people trying to use that system,” said Pochettino, who had also seen VAR dominate proceedings in the fifth-round replay against Rochdale.
“I think I prefer it when the ref and assistant make mistakes than to wait three or four minutes for things.
“But we now need to see the reality of how it is going to affect the staff on the touchline and the officials.
“It is so complex, but the worst thing for me is the effect for the fan.
“It is going to be a massive problem for the future. We will see what happens at the World Cup.”
Spurs were without the injured Harry Kane as Pochettino made seven changes from the side which had won at Bournemouth the previous weekend.
Dele Alli, Mousa Dembele and Hugo Lloris were all left on the bench but there was no way back for Swansea in their first FA Cup quarter-final for 54 years after Eriksen’s superb 11th-minute opener.
Lamela added a second in injury time at the end of the first half before Eriksen scored again just after the hour mark to raise hopes of a first Tottenham trophy since 2008.
“He is fantastic, so important for us,” Pochettino said of Eriksen.
“Every season he takes one step up, he is so consistent.
“(A trophy) is an option now.
“At the same time, just when you feel close to winning something, then you can be far away.
“We are going to try to win the semi-final and get to the final. Of course, it would be fantastic for the club to win a trophy.”
Anyone understand VAR yet??? Perfect run/pass/goal chalked off after being reviewed 🤔— Ledley King (@LedleyKing) March 17, 2018
Swansea had won seven straight games at the Liberty Stadium since losing to Tottenham in the league at the start of January.
But the absence of the Ayew brothers – Jordan was suspended and Andre cup-tied – blunted their attack, while their midfield and defence could not cope with Tottenham’s subtle movement.
“I am not disappointed,” said manager Carlos Carvalhal, who had always insisted Swansea’s battle to stay in the Premier League was their priority.
“The FA Cup has been a fantastic run for us – our best since 1964 – and this has not created any harm or damage for the future.
“We lost to a quality team who played well and scored fantastic goals.
“I said before to achieve something we must be at our best and they must be not so good.
“We know there is a gap and that they are better.”
Eriksen, 26, curled home a refined 11th-minute opener at Liberty Stadium, adding his second – and 11th of the season – with a fierce low drive past the hour mark. Between these efforts, Argentina forward Erik Lamela stroked in the visitor’s second after showing silky feet during first-half injury time.
Here are the talking points:
ERIKSEN TAKES CENTRE STAGE
Eriksen does not require misfortune alone from others for his utter brilliance to be known.
The sublime craftsmanship of the Spurs schemer is only bettered in the Premier League by Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne.
But Kane’s ankle damage last time out at Bournemouth and Dele Alli’s thigh problem saw the ex-Ajax man take on a more prominent role – to devastating effect.
There is something about the Swans that brings out the best in him. Eriksen’s last two-goal club haul came during a 5-0 mauling at White Hart Lane in December 2016, plus he’s been involved in more goals against them (seven goals and five assists) than any other club.
On the Welsh coast on Saturday, his rapier ability was again undeniable. A total of five of his six shots were on target, while 91.8-per-cent pass accuracy delivered six key passes.
His brace also saw him move just one below his best tallies at Spurs – from 2016/17 and 2014/15 – and two behind career-best figures registered at Ajax in 2012/13.
A prodigious talent is moving promisingly into its prime.
12 - Christian Eriksen has been involved in more goals against Swansea in all competitions for Spurs than he has vs any other team (7 goals and 5 assists in 10 games). Graceful.— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) March 17, 2018
FILLING IN FOR KING KANE
With Kane out until mid-April, a gargantuan share of goals must be covered.
Eriksen more than did his bit at Swansea. Joining him on the score sheet – and in some style – was Lamela.
This second goal of his comeback since a debilitating hip injury kept him out for exactly 400 days was delightful. A driving run caused panic in the backtracking Swansea backline, two delicious drags of his boot over the top of the ball befuddling them before placing a shot effortlessly into the bottom corner.
This was the highlight of a performance which contained a joint-team-high six dribbles.
Scrapping with him for the opportunities afforded in Kane’s absence is January addition Lucas Moura. The ex-Brazil winger delivered a regulation assist for Eriksen’s second.
But you could see the ring rust accrued from just 79 minutes of 2017/18 action at Paris Saint-Germain. Just before the hour mark, a lack of decisiveness saw him twice crowded out by centre-back Mike van der Hoorn and retreating winger Luciano Narsingh.
GETTING UP FOR THE CUP
A second-successive FA Cup semi-final is Spurs’ preserve after this seamless victory.
Memories of manager Mauricio Pochettino’s dismissive remarks about it in September still reverberate. But just two games now stand in the way of the ex-Argentina defender landing the club’s first trophy since 2008’s League Cup, or ending a wait to lift English football’s most traditional prize since 1991.
Injuries to the England trio of left-back Danny Rose, attacking midfielder Alli and striker Kane made it to difficult to ascertain his priorities. Changes, or a decision not to rotate Ben Davies, were taken away from him before kick-off.
With a date on temporary home soil at Wembley now theirs, a genuine shot at silverware should prove too alluring. The time is now to take the FA Cup seriously.
The 25-year-old has not scored for Chelsea in 2018 and started the Blues’ last three matches on the bench.
Morata’s uncapped club colleague Marcos Alonso has been named in Julen Lopetegui’s 24-man squad for the two matches, while former Chelsea striker Diego Costa has been recalled.
Barcelona‘s Sergi Roberto is the other notable snub, with the midfielder who can also play right-back left out of the squad despite some impressive recent performances.
Spain face Germany in Dusseldorf on March 23 and Argentina four days later at Atletico Madrid’s Wanda Metropolitano stadium.