BLACKBURN, United Kingdom (AFP) – Stoke manager Mark Hughes pointed the finger of blame at his players rather than referee Anthony Taylor following his team’s surprise 4-1 FA Cup defeat at Championship side Blackburn.
A dramatic fifth round tie changed just before half-time at Ewood Park on Saturday when Stoke defender Geoff Cameron was judged by Taylor to have brought down Josh King, earning him a red card and allowing Rudy Gestede to put Blackburn 2-1 in front from the resulting penalty.
Norwegian international King, who had equalised Peter Crouch’s early opening goal, went on to complete a 19-minute hat-trick against Stoke’s 10 men, much to the disgust of Hughes, whose team also lost 4-1 against Manchester City in midweek
“I was disappointed in us as a whole,” said former Blackburn boss Hughes. “We just didn’t deal with what we needed to deal with, the fundamentals.
“All managers will talk about the fundamentals, it doesn’t matter whether you are up against Man City or Blackburn Rovers, if you don’t then things are going to happen to your detriment.
“I have seen those penalties given, I’ve seen them not given, but the way our afternoon was shaping up, it was pretty predictable it would be given.
“In the end, I have no complaints. Blackburn were the better team and I wish them well in the next round.”
King’s hat-trick was one of the most eye-catching individual performances in the Cup this season, leaving his manager answering questions about the 23-year-old forward, who joined Blackburn from Manchester United in 2013.
“He’s a top lad, had a good education at Manchester United and you’ve seen what he’s capable of today. The challenge for him is to produce that on a regular basis,” said Blackburn boss Gary Bowyer.
“We identified areas where we thought we might get success today and King’s pace was one of those areas.
“He has fantastic pace but the most pleasing thing was he finished both chances, going through one-on-one, very well.”
Bowyer, whose club recently announced they are nearly £80 million ($120 million) in debt, was clearly delighted to have reached the quarter-finals and a potential money-spinning tie, although he would not contemplate the possibility of making it to the final.
“Do me a favour,” Bowyer said. “We’ve just finished this game. We’re delighted to be in the next round and we’d love another home tie and go from there”.