Mata’s phantom goal sparks video debate

TOTTENHAM (1) vs CHELSEA (5)

Chelsea reach FA Cup final in controversial fashion as Redknapp calls for technology

TOTTENHAM manager Harry Redknapp added his voice to the growing clamour for football to introduce video technology after his side’s dreams of silverware died in controversial fashion yesterday.

Chelsea ultimately romped to an emphatic victory over their London rivals to set up an FA Cup final against Liverpool, but their cause was aided by Juan Mata’s contentious goal just after half-time.

Referee Martin Atkinson ruled that Mata’s shot crossed the goal-line, putting the Blues 2-0 ahead and prompting a furious reaction from Spurs, who believed defender Benoit Assou-Ekotto had kept it out.

Television replays appeared to confirm as much and even Chelsea captain John Terry, who was at the heart of the melee, admitted afterwards he did not think the ball had gone in.

Striker Didier Drogba had already set the Blues on their way, and Ramires, Frank Lampard and Florent Malouda all added further goals, but Redknapp insisted the goal had dealt his team a decisive blow.

“It was nowhere near a goal. It was a huge mistake. We looked too open after that and they picked us off. It was key,” said Redknapp.

“I spoke to him [Atkinson]. He says he feels worse than I do. I said: ‘I don’t think so’.”

Mata’s goal was the latest in a spate of controversial decisions to blight English football in recent weeks and reignite the debate over video technology, which is already in use in tennis and cricket. Two goal-line systems are currently being tested and a decision on their suitability is due on 2 July.

Redknapp added: “Goal-line technology has to come in. You can’t keep having situations like that.”

Terry, speaking before he had seen replays, said: “I thought it hit me and stayed out. We’ve been calling for technology for a long time.”

Chelsea manager Roberto di Matteo offered qualified sympathy to Spurs, saying: “Apparently it didn’t cross the line. I can understand the frustration, but I don’t know how much it would have mattered because today we scored five, not two.”

Victory provided Chelsea welcome impetus just 72 hours before Barcelona visit, but it was tainted by an injury to David Luiz that looks likely to rule the defender out of the Champions League semi-final.

Another sour note was provided by those supporters in the Blues end who marred a minute’s silence for the Hillsborough tragedy’s anniversary – for which the club later expressed embarrassment.

Drogba put Chelsea ahead on 43 minutes – and netted his seventh in seven at Wembley – when he turned William Gallas 25 yards out and rifled a blistering left-foot shot into Carlo Cudicini’s top-right corner.

Mata’s goal rocked Spurs but they responded quickly, Gareth Bale tapping in after Petr Cech had felled Emmanuel Adebayor.

Tottenham’s efforts to chase the game left them exposed, however, and Mata set-up Ramires and Malouda for simple finishes either side of Lampard’s dipping long-range free-kick.