Neil Warnock described Premier League officials as the “worst in the world” after his Cardiff City side’s controversial loss to Chelsea.
Cezar Azpilicueta was clearly offside when he headed in Chelsea’s 84th-minute equaliser in their dramatic 2-1 win.
Warnock also felt several other decisions went against Cardiff, who remain in the relegation zone.
“The biggest and best league in the world but probably the worst officials at the minute,” he said.
“What can I say about my lads? They were brilliant and it made for a great game. It kicks you in the teeth. We’ve had enough of them this year.
“I am deflated because we have worked hard for this game and felt we could win it.
“Against the big teams you have to have VAR because you don’t get the big decisions. The equalising goal is the winning goal really, and if you can’t see across the line and see offside I don’t know why we are in the game.”
Cardiff seemed to be on course for their most notable victory of the season until Chelsea – who had been distinctly unimpressive – equalised through Azpilicueta.
Marcos Alonso flicked on a cross and, although his fellow Spaniard was at least a yard offside, assistant referee Eddie Smart kept his flag down and the goal stood.
Warnock was also unhappy that Chelsea’s Antonio Rudiger was not sent off after bringing down Kenneth Zohore as the Cardiff striker bore down on goal. Instead, referee Craig Pawson showed the German defender a yellow card.
Pawson had earlier rejected two penalty appeals from Cardiff, whose captain Sean Morrison had his shirt pulled by opposition defenders either side of half-time.
Warnock was visibly furious with those calls, though he was most angry with Smart’s decision to allow Azpilicueta’s equaliser.
The 70-year-old Cardiff manager walked on to the pitch after the final whistle and approached the officials but said nothing, merely staring at them as they left the field.
“At that stage people might be happy to see you say something and get fined but what can you say? I wanted to get my lads away because I didn’t want to get anyone punished,” Warnock explained.
“Burnley and Southampton [Cardiff’s relegation rivals] fans will be rubbing their hands in glee. It hurts.
“The referee had a decent game but we didn’t get the major decisions. The linesman, though… it is so disappointing. Chelsea know they have got away with murder today.”
Warnock appeared to remonstrate with Chelsea manager at Maurizio Sarri at one point but the Cardiff boss said the exchange was amenable.
“He’s lovely. He was moaning about a throw-in or something,” Warnock added.
“I said ‘Do you not know he’s two yards offside! You should be patting him on the back, not complaining about a throw-in.’
“He [Sarri] didn’t realise he [Azpilicueta] was offside, he said.
“The game is passion. I’m 70 bloody years old. If you’re not passionate at my age when you see such an injustice when you’ve seen the lads battle and fight like they have… against a team we should have beaten,” he said.
“Do you expect meek and mild and ‘congratulations Sarri’, patting him on the back? And shake the referee and linesmen’s hands? Come on, it’s the Premier League, it’s the best league in the world. And we are disappointed.”