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Marco Silva fumed at referee Chris Kavanagh and his VAR colleagues after Fulham’s spectacular FA Cup implosion at Manchester United, claiming his team were hard done by before seeing red.
The Cottagers bowed out with nine men at Old Trafford as they surrendered a 1-0 lead and eventually went down 3-1 after head coach Silva, striker Aleksandar Mitrovic and midfielder Willian were all red-carded in quick succession.
Fulham were on course for their first appearance in the last four of the competition since 2002, but their hopes were extinguished as the tie descended into chaos when referee Kavanagh awarded United a penalty 18 minutes from time.
After consulting VAR, and red-carding Silva for his protests, Kavanagh sent off Willian for handling Jadon Sancho’s shot on the line, while Mitrovic followed for getting physical with the official.
Silva called for consistency on VAR decisions after feeling his side should have been awarded two penalties in the first half, claiming Kavanagh had already angered him with several decisions going against his side this season.
3 red cards in 40 seconds btw#EmiratesFACup pic.twitter.com/7wuLan34DK
— Emirates FA Cup (@EmiratesFACup) March 19, 2023
“Until the penalty moment and the red cards, we were clearly the best team on the pitch,” Silva told the BBC. “The players stuck to the plan, we were brave to control the game against Manchester United and I believe we clearly showed our quality.
“It is a shame the ref wasn’t shown VAR for the first-half moments. It is difficult to be Fulham at Old Trafford, the VAR feels the pressure too. For us, it is difficult to understand why they didn’t do the same.”
Silva added, speaking to ITV: “For me, it [the penalty] was a decision that VAR can take, but what is difficult for us to understand is why the two moments in their box in the first half – and one of them is a clear penalty on Mitrovic – no one checks or wants to see.
“Chris was in a game we played away at West Ham where we lost with two clear handballs, we received the apology because of the mistakes.
“The last game at Leeds in the FA Cup, it was him again. And for a game that is in the quarter-finals, it’s him again, it’s difficult to understand.
“Of course, we respect that he’s a top referee in this country, I accept that. But unfortunately for us, with us, he’s been really unhappy this season.”
Nevertheless, Silva acknowledged he and Mitrovic were deserving of their dismissals, and knows he and his players must demonstrate greater levels of discipline going forward.
“Even if I haven’t done something special, I have to control myself,” Silva added. “I didn’t say anything special to the ref, he didn’t listen and showed me the red card. As I left my area, I have to accept it.
“You have to keep the emotional balance, of course. Sometimes, it is not easy, but it is our obligation to do it.
“It’s been a tough season in some moments for us. We know that we are Fulham, we don’t have the same importance in football as some others, but it’s difficult for us to deal with some situations.”