Frank Lampard questioned the lack of a VAR review when Harry Maguire appeared to foul Cesar Azpilicueta in the penalty area during Saturday’s goalless draw at Manchester United.
A dour encounter at Old Trafford never caught fire, although England defender Maguire was fortune to escape unpunished when he wrapped his arms around Azpilicueta’s neck while defending a 40th-minute corner.
Former United defender Patrice Evra, working as a television pundit for Sky Sports, compared Maguire’s challenge to something wrestling star Hulk Hogan might produce.
Lampard spared referee Martin Atkinson from criticism after the match but was astonished the official did not receive any assistance from his colleagues in front of the Stockley Park video screens.
“I thought it was a clear penalty, I obviously didn’t see it at the time,” he said.
“VAR was very quick to dismiss it, in my opinion. I think if the referee watches the monitor it has to be a penalty.”
The Chelsea boss is irked that referees appear to have reverted to a reluctance to consult the pitchside monitor – something that came in for criticism last season as the Premier League made a chequered start to its use of VAR.
“The frustration is something seemed to be moving in the right direction,” he said. “We were all pretty happy with the referee going to the monitor more often at the start of this season.
“The person on the pitch should always take first responsibility and I think we gave that back to the referee. For some reason they’ve come off that and I don’t understand it at all.
“It was a pretty simple decision, it wasn’t a difficult one for VAR to give. If they’d asked the referee on the pitch to review it, it would have been a penalty.”
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Lampard reserved praise for goalkeeper Edouard Mendy, who further cemented his number one status at Chelsea with another clean sheet on the back of Tuesday’s 0-0 Champions League draw at Sevilla.
Mendy made four saves overall including one in each half from Marcus Rashford.
His athletic spring to push the England forward’s stoppage-time strike away from the top-left corner was particularly impressive.
“His performance was very good. He showed what he’s there for,” Lampard added. “We’ve brought him in because of his quality. He’s shown great composure in the games he’s played in already.
“I’m delighted with the saves because in a tight game you rely on that.”
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