Tottenham 6 Rochdale 1: Llorente hat-trick settles replay after VAR farce
Fernando Llorente's hat-trick fired Tottenham into the FA Cup quarter-finals after sealing a 6-1 victory in a fifth-round replay against Rochdale marked by controversial video assistant referee (VAR) deliberations.
The Spaniard's second-half strikes restored the Premier League side's control of the contest after an opening period that threatened to descend into farce due to a number of dubious refereeing decisions involving VAR.
There were lengthy pauses in play while referee Paul Tierney consulted VAR, before disallowing a goal for Erik Lamela after six minutes. A penalty for Spurs was also rescinded.
Son Heung-min put Spurs ahead but the League One visitors levelled through Stephen Humphrys and boos rang out around Wembley at half-time as the Spurs fans voiced their frustration amid the confusion.
In stark contrast, the second half was a procession for Mauricio Pochettino's men, who raced ahead through Llorente's trio of goals before Son, who was influential throughout, added a fifth.
Substitute Kyle Walker-Peters scored his first Tottenham goal in injury time to cap off what proved to be an emphatic win.
FT | Rochdale bow out of the #EmiratesFACup after another performance to be proud of this evening. It has been a truly memorable cup run this year - thanks for your outstanding support along the way #RAFC-- Rochdale AFC (@officiallydale) February 28, 2018
A chaotic first half exploded into life when Tottenham put the ball in the net after six minutes. Son's cross ricocheted off the legs of Llorente and Lamela stroked the ball past Josh Lillis.
Rochdale looked dismayed by the early setback but after a two-minute delay Tierney, having delayed the game to consult VAR, disallowed the goal for a pull on the shirt of visiting defender Harrison McGahey by Llorente in the build-up to the goal.
The League One side then hit the post through Matt Done's low shot but Tottenham's class began to shine through after 23 minutes when Lamela split the opposition defence before rolling the ball to Son, who rattled the ball into the bottom right corner of the net.
Two minutes later Tierney consulted VAR again before awarding Spurs a penalty for a foul by Done on Kieran Trippier, but Rochdale were let off the hook when Son's spot-kick was ruled out for a feint during the run-up that earned the Korean a yellow card.
On the half-hour mark the visitors drew level through Humphrys, who deftly controlled Andrew Cannon's cross and rounded Michel Vorm before rolling the ball into the bottom right corner of the net.
Cannon almost gave the visitors a sensational half-time lead when he crashed a shot onto the post in injury time but the ball bounced clear and Spurs breathed a sigh of relief.
Spurs' nerves were settled within two minutes of the restart when Lucas Moura sailed through Rochdale's half and slid the ball to Llorente, who skilfully chipped the ball over Lillis and into the empty net from just inside the penalty area.
Llorente added his second and Tottenham's third six minutes later after Moura and Son combined to present him with a simple chance from the edge of the six-yard box and he toe-poked the ball home with his left foot before Lillis could react.
It was 4-1 just before the hour mark when Son got to the byline and hung the ball up tantalisingly in front of goal with a chipped pass before Llorente nodded it into the net.
Unselfish play from Lamela gave Son the easiest of chances six minutes later and he turned the Argentine's low cross into the unguarded net from three yards out.
Lamela rattled the frame of the goal with a curling free-kick in the closing stages but the contest - and Rochdale's hopes of an upset - had long since ended.
There was time for one last memorable moment in the 93rd minute when Walker-Peters scored his first goal for Tottenham, slotting the ball into the bottom left corner from 10 yards out after Dele Alli played him in.