London – Fernando Torres is staring at a four-match ban for gouging and scratching Jan Vertonghen’s face in a development sure to enrage Chelsea and their manager Jose Mourinho.
Daily Mail understands Mike Dean showed Torres his first yellow card for a trip on Spurs defender Vertonghen, not for raising his hands in the confrontation which followed. None of Dean’s assistants saw the flashpoint and the referee will report these facts to the FA’s disciplinary department today.
From there, it will be immediately passed to a new panel of three ex-referees, who will judge whether the scratching offence deserves a red card for violent conduct.
If they decide it does, Torres will be banned for three games in addition to the automatic one-match ban for his red card.
The Chelsea striker would miss Barclays Premier League games against Norwich, Cardiff and Manchester City and the Capital One Cup tie against Arsenal, although he would be free to play in Europe.
An extended ban will infuriate Torres, who was aggrieved to be sent off nine minutes from time when Dean dismissed him with a second yellow card for what replays suggested was a fair aerial challenge, again with Vertonghen.
The £50million striker had been quite brilliant at White Hart Lane and was especially dangerous in the second half once his feud with Vertonghen had taken hold.
It rekindled memories of last season when his nose was broken in a Europa League tie against Steaua Bucharest and he reacted with perhaps the best display of his Chelsea career.
Mourinho refused to criticise the officials but accused Vertonghen – also booked earlier for a foul on Ramires – of over-reacting and feigning injury to get Torres dismissed.
“When you do that to someone from your same profession, I think it’s a disgrace,” said the Chelsea boss. “When nobody touches you and nobody hurts you and you pretend that the opponent made a violent contact, you are putting the referee in a very difficult situation. The referee trusts the player and gives a bad decision.
“The red card is a big mistake. If I was the boss of the committee I would give a one-match suspension to the Tottenham defender.”
Mourinho put an arm around Torres’s shoulder as he left the pitch and offered a word of encouragement. “He knows I’m very happy with his performances,” said the manager, who thought his striker’s improved physical condition was the key to his good form, rather than simply an explosion of rage.
“He’s very strong, physically. I was watching Fernando’s matches for Chelsea in other seasons and he looked a bit heavy, a little slow. I think Fernando looks in fantastic shape now.”
There was also praise for John Terry, who scored the equaliser and is out of contract at the end of the season. “He has a future,” said Mourinho. “The way he is playing he has a future in China, a future here. He has a future where he wants.”
Meanwhile, Kevin de Bruyne has been axed by Mourinho and will not travel to Romania for Tuesday’s Champions League tie against Steaua Bucharest.
The Belgian was left out at Tottenham after a poor display in the Capital One Cup at Swindon, and has been told to train with the U21 squad. – Daily Mail