Antonio Conte and Tottenham were left scratching their heads as Harry Kane scored a goal which was ruled out by VAR for offside, and another goal was ruled out for a questionable foul.
Those calls were key as Spurs drew at Southampton, who played 60 minutes with 10 men after Mohammed Salisu sent off.
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Locked at 1-1 early in the second half, Harry Winks clipped a lovely ball over the top and Kane scored his and Tottenham’s second goal of the game, which would likely have won them the game at 10-man Southampton.
However, after Kane celebrated with the away fans, flares were thrown on the pitch and the entire Spurs side had returned to the halfway line, Kane was bemused to see VAR rule out his effort for offside. Replays showed he was marginally offside (check out the videos above and below).
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Then, late on Fraser Forster knocked the ball into his own net under pressure from Matt Doherty and a foul was given. Neither decision went down well with Tottenham.
Conte doesn’t fancy a fine, but Dier calls it out
Antonio Conte was asked by multiple outlets about the decisions in the game, and here is what he said.
“Yeah, I think Harry scored twice, one a penalty and then the second goal,” Conte told reporters after the game. “I think that I don’t want to comment on the referee decision or the VAR decision. They are there to try to do their best. We hope every time that they make the best decision… We didn’t find the solutions to score. We scored, but they decided to disallow the goal.”
Conte then told BBC Sport the following:
“To play after 44 hours is not easy because you need to recover from the last game. Maybe the fatigue caused bad decisions especially when we arrived in their box. It’s not easy to take a good result in this stadium. In the end we could do better. I don’t want to comment on this decision or situation [to disallow a goal for a foul on the keeper]. There is the referee and the VAR. We have to accept the decision.”
Tottenham defender Eric Dier didn’t mind speaking his mind on the Matt Doherty disallowed goal.
“It didn’t look that bad,” Dier told BBC Sport. “I thought there was a Southampton player in his [Fraser Forster’s] way. Goalkeepers get too much protection, especially outside the six-yard box. They can jump and use their hands which is an advantage enough.”
How close was the offside?
Here is a look below at the first incident in question, as Kane was leaning offside, but this was a return to the kind of offside calls many lambasted VAR for last season.
Nobody wants a return to that.
— beIN SPORTS (@beINSPORTS_EN) December 28, 2021
A foul on Forster?
As for the second incident in question, it seemed like a foul.
Doherty jumped in to Forster who dropped the ball and then flicked the ball into his own net with his foot.
That said, it was a soft foul and Forster will be a relieved man.
Dier is probably right that goalkeepers got plenty of protection, but it feels like the Kane offside call is harsher than the decision to give a foul on Doherty.
Overall, Tottenham knew they didn’t play well enough to get all three points against 10-man Southampton but had a few big calls gone their way, they would have won. Come the end of the season, these calls could make a big difference in their push for a top four finish.
But Conte is more concerned about Spurs not turning up for the first 30 minutes of this game and perhaps getting a little lucky that Mohammed Salisu was sent off and Southampton didn’t further extend their lead in the first half.
Tottenham are a work in progress and seven games unbeaten in the PL since Conte arrived, but there is plenty of work to do. VAR, offside and fouls aside…
👀 Antonio Conte: "Why do we have to take a slap to have a reaction? That is the big job that awaits me. To change the mentality. After we conceded a goal we started to play." #THFC #SaintsFC #SOUTOT https://t.co/L0KGrq5lIE
— Joe Prince-Wright (@JPW_NBCSports) December 28, 2021