Rochdale manager Keith Hill celebrated his team’s FA Cup draw with Tottenham – and defended the right of Dele Alli to win the penalty that almost shattered the hosts’ hopes.
Hill even admitted that if Alli won a penalty for England at the World Cup in similar circumstances he would cheer the midfielder.
TV host Gary Lineker tweeted that pundits Alan Shearer and Jermaine Jenas had told him they thought Alli had been fouled by Harrison McGahey.
Lineker tweeted: “The question was asked by me, ‘Dele Alli has a reputation for diving, do you think he dived on this occasion?’ @jjenas8 and @alanshearer both thought it was a blatant foul and a penalty, not a dive. And for what it’s worth, I agree.”
Harry Kane stepped up to fire home the 88th-minute spot-kick to make it 2-1 and seemingly break the hosts’ hearts but Steve Davies snatched an equaliser in the third minute of added time to earn the League One side a replay at Wembley.
Since making his Premier League debut Alli is the most-booked player for diving – the latest was in the 3-3 draw at Liverpool earlier this month – but this time TV replays appeared to show he had been fouled.
Hill was not prepared to wade into the debate over Alli winning penalties, with the Dale boss saying: “I have not seen it again but I’m led to believe he is looking for it (but) we get too involved in controversy.
“If a centre-forward or midfield player feels as though there is a penalty opportunity to be gained…brilliant – whether it is Dele Alli, Steve Davies, Ian Henderson, Andy Cannon it doesn’t really matter
“I won’t hold it against him and if he does it for England in the summer and we win the World Cup I will certainly be supporting him.”
Rochdale were well worth their Wembley pay-day after taking the game to their Premier League opponents and opening the scoring with a well-worked move on the stroke of the half-time only for Lucas Moura to equalise before Spurs took the lead from the spot.
“The performance deserved at least the opportunity to go to Wembley in a replay,” added Hill.
“I thought the first half was magnificent, the way we took the game to the opponent. Why not take not take them on and try to win the game?
“It could have been football suicide but for us to score the goal and go in 1-0 at half-time was tremendous, a marvellous feeling for those players.
“For us to get that late equaliser – wow – that was raw emotion not just from me but from the group of players, staff and supporters. I am very pleased the players have got the reward of a game at Wembley.”
Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino had no complaints and stressed they could have no excuse with the newly-laid surface.
“The pitch was good, very good. Happy because I think it was a great game and I think the pitch helped to make that for both teams,” he said.
“We are not complaining because they deserved to go and play at Wembley.
“I think after Harry scored we all believed the tie was won.
“The good news is we are alive after a difficult day. Now we have to move forward. We have another opportunity to get to the quarter-final.”