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Neil Warnock rages at 'criminal' refereeing after Cardiff lose to Chelsea

Late goals from Azpilicueta and Loftus-Cheek guide the London club to victory in Wales

Cesar Azpilicueta, left, scored Chelsea's equaliser but the defender was clearly offside. Reuters
Cesar Azpilicueta, left, scored Chelsea's equaliser but the defender was clearly offside. Reuters

Cardiff City manager Neil Warnock was left enraged after "criminal" refereeing cost his relegation-threatened side a potential victory over Chelsea on Sunday.

Late goals from Cesar Azpilicueta and Ruben Loftus-Cheek helped Chelsea complete a thrilling comeback to beat Cardiff 2-1 in Wales after Victor Camarasa had given the hosts the lead at the start of the second half.

With Chelsea heading for an embarrassing defeat against third-bottom Cardiff, their captain Azpilicueta dragged them back into the match with a goal that was clearly offside.

The visitors then completed the fightback when substitute Loftus-Cheek stormed in at the back post to plant a header in the bottom corner.

Moments earlier, Chelsea were perhaps fortunate not to be reduced to 10-men after Antonio Rudiger hauled down Kenneth Zohore as the last remaining defender, sparking more fury from Warnock who had just discovered Chelsea's opening goal should have been ruled out.

After raging at the fourth official on the touchline, Warnock opted for the silent treatment following the final whistle, walking out on to the pitch toward referee Craig Pawson and his assistants only to glare at the officials.

"It's difficult because I am really flat. I am so proud of my players. To get let down by the officials ... roll on VAR," Warnock told Sky Sports.

"We worked three weeks for this but to get let down by decisions ... no major decisions went for us. They don't realise what is at stake.

"It's not our fault an official can't see that, it is the most obvious offside I have ever seen or the most certain penalty I have ever seen. What goes through my mind? Is it payback time for me over the years?

"It's the best league in the world but the worst officials. They don't understand what is at stake. They shouldn't make mistakes at this level."

Defeat keeps Cardiff five points behind 17th-placed Burnley, but Warnock's side do have a game in had as they bid to stave off the threat of relegation.

"My players feel like they have been kicked in the teeth," the Cardiff manager added. "We've been kicked so many times. I don't deserve officials like that today. There is no excuse for that, it's criminal.

"if my players feel like they look in the dressing room, that's the end of our season. But how many times have we bounced back this season?"

For Chelsea, the win moves them level on 60 points with fifth-placed Arsenal, one point behind Manchester United in fourth. However, the victory has hardly convinced the Chelsea faithful, who chanted for manager Maurzio Sarri to be sacked.

"They were probably unhappy for the result," Sarri told Sky Sports. "I can understand, I can understand very well. I am getting used to this.

The Italian admitted his side had ridden their luck to collect a valuable away win. Prior to their trip to the Welsh capital, Chelsea had lost four of their past five games on the road.

"After the Everton match, we were a little bit nervous," he said. "We didn’t play well in the first half and we conceded a stupid goal.

"In the end we deserved to win. I don’t know if the goal was offside, I have to see the situation and the action, I don’t know. Maybe. Sometimes we can be lucky."

Updated: March 31, 2019 08:04 PM

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