LONDON — In the 79th minute of Tottenham’s 1-1 draw with Chelsea at White Hart Lane on Saturday, Jan Vertonghen crumpled in a heap after a 50-50 challenge with Fernando Torres.
On first viewing it appeared Chelsea’s Spanish striker had caught the Belgian defender late, leaving referee Mike Dean with no option other than to issue Torres a second yellow card and send him off.
Replays after show that Torres didn’t touch Vertonghen. Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho wasn’t happy and brandished Vertonghen a cheat.
“I think in this situation, the referee is not guilty, the player is guilty,” Mourinho said. “Because if nobody touches me and in this moment, I fall, it is not your fault, it is my fault because I fall. So, I think the referee went in the trust when he saw, I think it was Vertonghen. When he pretends that Fernando had a big contact on him, the referee is at a distance and he makes the second yellow card.”
Andre Villas-Boas believed the red card for Torres was harsh.
“It is difficult for the ref to judge,” Andre Villas-Boas said. “They both go for the ball and the ref decided to caution Fernando, so probably that one is a bit dubious and unfair. But I think there were some incident before that could have gotten him a caution early, also for Jan to be fair. The referee made the wrong decision for the one before the sending off, we are probably annoyed with that, but Jose will be annoyed with the sending off.
And there were certainly plenty of other incidents between Torres and Vertonghen, which culminated in the Spaniard being shown his marching orders with 10 minutes to play.
Firstly, Torres gave Spurs’ backline a torrid time after the break, as he hassled, harried and chased down every lost ball. But his enthusiastic display that helped drag Chelsea back into the game, boiled over in the 50th minute when Torres sneakily tripped Vertonghen as the Belgian center half tried to let the ball run out of play by the corner flag. Vertonghen reacted angrily by complaining, and then Torres inexplicably pushed the Spurs defender in the face and scratched the Belgian. That incident earned Torres a yellow card and the scrap between the pair intensified as the second half continued.
But it ended in Torres’ dismissal, which Mourinho thought was wrong.
The Chelsea boss then launched into a rather humorous tirade against Vertonghen, who pulled down Aston Villa’s Nicklas Hellenius’ shorts in the box during the midweek League cup win, and was neither sent off or given a foul against.
“Three days ago he left the Aston Villa striker naked,” Mourinho said to raptures of laughter amongst the gathered press. “And it was not a penalty and not a red card, because he shouldn’t play this game. Vertonghen should be suspended. if you go to YouTube it is top of the ridiculous situations in football. It’s ridiculous, the boy was naked and today he [Vertonghen] changed the game. I’m not happy.”
But ending on a serious note, Mourinho certainly didn’t agree with the decision, and believed the incident changed the outcome of the game.
“We won everything in midfield, we won every second ball in midfield, we were going in waves of attack,” Mourinho said. “A couple of minutes before Schurrle has a chance that normally he has to score and kill the game – great save by Lloris -so in the end you stay with a bad taste because you should win.”