x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Referee rulings take Spurs out of reach for Champions League spot

Manager Redknapp is not amused as 'honest mistake' and the lack of use of technology puts his team on the losing side in a crucial EPL match against Chelsea.

Tottenham Hotspur's goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes attempts to prevent Chelsea's Frank Lampard's shot from crossing the line.
Tottenham Hotspur's goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes attempts to prevent Chelsea's Frank Lampard's shot from crossing the line.

LONDON // Harry Redknapp, the Tottenham Hotspur manager, called for the introduction of goalline technology to help referees and their assistants after his side were on the wrong end of a blatant error, and perhaps two, by the officials in their controversial 2-1 defeat against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge last night.

Tottenham were leading 1-0 when, shortly before half time, Heurelho Gomes fumbled a shot from Frank Lampard. Although Gomes appeared to recover his ground and regather the ball before it had crossed the line, the assistant Mike Cairns ruled that it had and informed Andre Marriner, the referee.

Redknapp was not amused. "Technology has got to come in," he said. "Why have we been messing around all these years? You could've seen the replay in five seconds and it takes five seconds to get the right decision. What's wrong with that? People say it'll spoil the fun in the game but how's that [wrong decision] fun in the game?

"The assistant was probably somewhere near the 18-yard line when he made his decision. It was not his fault. It was impossible for him, how could he see from there? If you're not sure, you shouldn't give it, and he made a mistake. But it was an honest mistake."

As if Tottenham had not suffered enough, Salomon Kalou, a Chelsea substitute, seemed fractionally offside when he nudged in the winner in the 89th minute after a goalmouth scramble.

"That was marginal but it was offside," Redknapp said. "But what can we do? Two wrong decisions have cost us dearly."

Tottenham's chances of qualifying for the Champions League now seem remote. They trail Manchester City for fourth place by four points and although they have yet to travel to Eastlands, they have played a game more.

For all Redknapp's sorrow, Chelsea's narrow - and perhaps undeserved - win at least reignited the title race, with their gap to Manchester United now reduced to three points. Without a win - and if United were to beat Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium today -- the Premier League chase could have been prematurely over.

"We did our job, we had to win," Carlo Ancelotti, their manager, said. "OK, some decisions were good for us today, but this is football. We were a bit lucky today"

History favoured Chelsea in this one. Tottenham's last league win at Stamford Bridge had come in February 1990. Chelsea held the edge in the recent past, too, with an unbeaten sequence of nine league matches.

In contrast, Tottenham had only one victory in their last 10 matches in all competitions, though five draws had helped them to a six-match undefeated league run.

Chelsea were undoubtedly in the happier frame of mind, perhaps as had been many local residents the day before when a royal wedding had taken place a few miles down the road at Westminster Abbey.

And Fernando Torres also started, a rare vote of confidence from his manager, Carlo Ancelotti.

Initially, Heurelho Gomes, the Tottenham keeper, was little more than a spectator as Didier Drogba's thunderous 35-yard free kick cannoned on to the crossbar and away to safety. However, he then made a solid save from Michael Essien and was alert to push aside a well-driven effort from Florent Malouda.

Tottenham's resilience and Gomes's agility were rewarded in the 19th minute, when they took the lead in spectacular fashion. There appeared scant danger when Sandro, the defensive midfielder, took aim from 35 yards out but his stunning half-volley arrowed into the top right-hand corner of Petr Cech's net.

Cech got a hand to it but was powerless to combat its pace. As Sandro celebrated wildly on the touchline - it was his first goal for the club - Harry Redknapp, his manager, tried to calm him and explain some tactics, presumably like how to defend a 1-0 lead. Tottenham did so quite competently, with the help of Gomes, who pushed over a fierce Drogba header. But it was the Brazilian who was culpable for the Chelsea "goal" on the stroke of half time.

Whether the officials accepted their mistake, maybe having seen a replay of the contentious incident in their room at half time, Tottenham did appear to have several "soft" decisions go their way in the second period.

Gomes made a better effort of saving a long-range drive from Drogba. He did err again, when failing to hold another Drogba free kick piledriver, but Kalou miscued his follow-up attempt.

From then on, Chelsea dominated, without any real penetration, and a draw looked likely until Kalou's late intervention.

sports@thenational.ae

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