Southampton manager Mark Hughes has expressed his frustration with the standard of refereeing in Sunday's FA Cup semi-final against Chelsea, which the Saints lost 2-0 courtesy of goals from Olivier Giroud and Álvaro Morata.
Speaking after the match and quoted on the Southampton website, Hughes was particularly incensed by referee Martin Atkinson's decision not to consult the video assistant referee before disallowing what would have been an equaliser for the Saints, after Chelsea goalkeeper Willy Caballero had fumbled the ball over the line under pressure from striker Charlie Austin:
"The referee reckoned it was a foul, which clearly it wasn’t, and it begs the question whether or not he wasn’t inclined to give situations like that," explained the Saints manager, adding:
"At the very least it should’ve been referred to VAR. It’s one of those clear situations, where, if we’re going to introduce video refereeing, surely that’s one of the situations to review to make sure you get those key decisions in games correct."
Hughes also felt that Atkinson should have awarded a penalty against Chelsea. Speaking to BT Sport and quoted on the BBC Sport website, he claimed:
"There was a handball by Olivier Giroud, so we feel hard done by."
On a more positive note, Hughes was full of praise for the way his side fought back after conceding in the first minute of the second half. Quoted on his club's website, he said:
"I thought the response after that was really good. We took the game to them, created chances and Shane Long had a great opportunity to get back on level terms."
Hughes felt that his side might have fought back against the Blues with a little more good fortune, as he told BT Sport:
"We got a response but we didn’t get any luck."
After being eliminated from the FA Cup, Southampton will now have to return to the grim reality of a Premier League relegation dogfight. It will be a tall order for the Saints to avoid the drop, as they are currently four points behind 17th-placed Swansea with just four matches remaining.