Debate over the merits of video assistant refereeing was again raised as a Romelu Lukaku double eased Manchester United into the FA Cup quarter-finals in a 2-0 win at Huddersfield despite a controversial call going against Jose Mourinho’s men.
Juan Mata thought he had put United into a 2-0 lead just before half-time only for the Spaniard’s effort to be ruled out by the video referee after a lengthy delay, and without conclusive proof the officials on the field had made the wrong decision.
Thankfully for United, and the authorities, that decision didn’t have a definitive influence on the outcome as Lukaku struck early in both halves to take his tally for the season to 21.
Brighton and Southampton were also fifth round victors to join Chelsea and Leicester, who beat Hull and Sheffield United respectively on Friday, in the draw for the last eight later on Saturday.
United were without Paul Pogba due to illness as a frustrating few weeks for the Frenchman continued after a dramatic dip in form that has seen him hauled off by Mourinho in recent defeats at Tottenham and Newcastle.
Mourinho made six changes in all from last weekend’s shock reverse at St. James’ Park, but his decision to retain Lukaku paid dividends when the Belgian burst onto Mata’s pass to open the scoring inside three minutes.
Mata then had the ball in the net himself a minute before the break. A delay in referring the decision was exacerbated as the lines used to help the video official decipher offside decisions appeared to be far from straight.
United were left to mull over their grievance at half-time, but quickly ensured it wasn’t to cost them too dearly as a brilliant one-two between Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez freed the former to slot low past Jonas Lossl.
– More West Brom woe –
Elsewhere, a week to forget for West Brom was rounded off with an FA Cup exit as fellow Premier League strugglers Southampton won 2-1 at the Hawthorns on Saturday.
West Brom boss Alan Pardew named Jonny Evans and Gareth Barry in his starting line-up despite the experienced duo forming half of a group of four players questioned by Spanish police this week over the theft of a taxi on the club’s warm weather training trip to Barcelona.
“There was a problem in terms of selection because of the incident to go with my strongest team,” said Pardew.
“I decided to do that. I felt I needed to make a little bit of a statement about the events. I was far from happy over them and made Gareth (McAuley) captain today.”
Wesley Hoedt took advantage of some slack West Brom marking to head home his first goal for Southampton just 11 minutes in.
Dusan Tadic doubled the visitors’ advantage on the counter-attack after the break and Southampton held out despite Salomon Rondon’s spectacular volley pulling a goal back.
Brighton cruised into the last eight as fourth-tier Coventry City’s fairytale run came to a crashing end in a 3-1 defeat.
Sheffield Wednesday and Swansea City face an unwanted replay after an insipid 0-0 draw on Swansea boss Carlos Carvalhal’s return to Hillsborough.
“It’s a score nobody wants,” said Carvalhal, whose side are also battling for Premier League survival.
“Maybe in the future, if the managers and referee agree after the first game we can go to penalties, we can finish the game today.
“I believe if you had asked us and the Sheffield Wednesday manager, we’d have gone to penalties.”