LONDON: David Wagner and Huddersfield are free to focus all their energies on avoiding relegation from the Premier League after a 2-0 defeat by Manchester United ended their interest in the FA Cup.
One goal in each half from Romelu Lukaku decided a fifth-round tie whose outcome involved a further controversy over the use of the video assistant referee.
United were 1-0 ahead late in the first half when Juan Mata put the ball in the net only to see the ‘goal’ scrapped by referee Kevin Friend after a two-minute reference to video assistant Neil Swarbrick. First TV images of the incident, which suggested that Mata had been onside, added to the confusion.
Wagner, a VAR sceptic, said: “The emotion was killed. I said immediately to Jose [Mourinho], during the incident, whatever is decided, whether it goes in our favour or not, I don’t like it. The emotion is killed, in the stadium, in the stands, in the dug-outs. It is killed. This is why I don’t like this system. Maybe I am too traditional.”
United manager Mourinho, who could afford to be generous in victory, said: “The words of the protocol are something like a ‘clear and obvious situation’ and for sure this was not a clear and obvious situation but we know it is experimental and we have to accept it.”
** West Bromwich’s week went from bad to worse when they lost 2:1 at home to Southampton. Four senior players – Jonny Evans, Gareth Barry, Jake Livermore and Boaz Myhill – were in trouble with Barcelona police in midweek after stealing a taxi to return to the team hotel in the early hours of the morning.
** Swansea manager Carlos Carvalhal demanded that drawn FA cup-tie be settled on penalties on the day after a 0:0 draw with Sheffield Wednesday added an extra midweek match to relegation-threatened City’s fixture schedule.
** Brighton manager Chris Hughton was happy to see £14m forward Jurgen Locadia mark his debut by scoring the first goal in a 3:1 defeat of lower-league Coventry. The club record signing arrived from PSV Eindhoven last month but had not played for two months because of a hamstring injury.