|Manchester United’s Belgian striker Romelu Lukaku (right) shoots to score the opening goal against Huddersfield during the English FA Cup fifth round football match. - AFP Photo
LONDON - 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.
"If they have the VAR to help them make the right decisions, I think the referees will be happy with that," said Mourinho.
"But if the VAR change their good decisions for bad decisions, I think they are not happy with that."
United will face Brighton in the last eight, with Chelsea travelling to Leicester as four of the Premier League’s top five were kept apart in the quarter-final draw.
Manchester City will host Southampton if they see off third-tier Wigan on Monday, and Tottenham face a trip to Sheffield Wednesday or Swansea should they progress in Sunday’s visit to Rochdale.
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.
"I’m up for it and I think it is needed, especially when it is a clear decision," said Mata.
"Hopefully it will be quicker as well, but I think it will be good for football to be a bit more fair."
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. - AFP