Southampton manager Mark Hughes was left bemused after the video assistant referee was not consulted in the ‘match-defining’ moment of Sunday’s FA Cup semi-final loss to Chelsea.
Olivier Giroud’s effort early in the second half was all that split the sides when Willy Caballero dropped the ball into his own net, only to be saved by referee Martin Atkinson adjudging Saints striker Charlie Austin had fouled the goalkeeper.
Substitute Alvaro Morata went onto seal a 2-0 victory with a late header, but Hughes was dissatisfied with the overall performance of the officials and believes VAR technology should have been utilised.
Southampton were denied a goal after the referee blew for a foul on Willy Caballero
Martin Atkinson adjudging Saints striker Charlie Austin had impeded the Chelsea goalkeeper
‘There’s disappointment because the situation where the goalkeeper’s made a wrong decision, basically thrown the ball into the back of his net,’ the Southampton boss said.
‘If ever there was a situation for VAR to play a hand and step in to review that, I would have thought that was an opportunity.
‘It was a match-defining moment, a key moment. Who knows how the game might have followed from that moment? Why it wasn’t referred? I have no idea.
‘Giroud handled from the following corner, another they could have reviewed, but maybe that was a bit too quick for him.
‘We’re disappointed with the officials on the day, and whoever it is who sits in a darkened room.
Mark Hughes was furious VAR was not consulted as Southampton were denied an equaliser
‘We will speak (to the officials). I’m not sure how the process works. Does the referee make an instant decision? Do they tell him?’
Struggling Saints, who are in serious danger of Premier League relegation, could have also benefited from VAR in last weekend’s league defeat to the Blues when Marcos Alonso escaped a red card after standing on the leg of Shane Long.
The technology is not currently used in England’s top flight, although Chelsea defender Alonso missed the semi-final after being banned retrospectively.
Despite the controversy, Hughes’ men were second best for most of Sunday’s game.
Chelsea, inspired by Eden Hazard, will now face Manchester United in next month’s final, with Antonio Conte and Jose Mourinho set to go head to head once again.
Both sets of players protest around the incident that Hughes described as ‘match-defining’
The pair have clashed numerous times in the recent past, although both played down their feud before their league meeting in February.
Blues boss Conte, who lost to Arsenal in last season’s cup final, reiterated that he has no issue with Mourinho, while also saying that United are favourites to lift the trophy.
‘With Jose, we have clarified the situation,’ Conte said. ‘There is not a problem between him and I.
‘We are talking about two managers with strong characters, and two winners.
‘When in your mind and your heart and your blood there is the will to win, for sure, we want to try to win this trophy.
Austin discusses the incident with the referee during the 2-0 semi-final defeat by Chelsea
‘The same way Manchester United want to do this. I repeat, I have great respect for United’s story, for Mourinho’s story.
‘They have the same respect, I think, for Chelsea’s story and my story.’
United booked their place in the final by beating Tottenham 2-1 on Saturday.
Conte added: ‘I can tell you that we played last season in the final and arrived as favourites against Arsenal.
‘This season, we are arriving not as favourites.
‘But, as you know very well, we lost the final despite being favourites in my mind.’