Chelsea captain Cesar Azpilicueta refused to blame referee Anthony Taylor for his side’s FA Cup final defeat by Arsenal.
The official harshly gave Mateo Kovacic a second yellow card in the 73rd minute and left the Blues with an uphill task of overturning a 2-1 deficit with just over 15 minutes remaining.
Christian Pulisic had given Frank Lampard’s side an early lead but Azpilicueta conceded a penalty after dragging back Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. The striker converted the spot-kick before scoring the winner mid-way through the second half.
The Blues’ skipper was forced to watch most of the game from the sidelines after he went off with a hamstring injury just before half-time.
While the big calls went against his side, Azpilicueta insisted he and his team-mates only had themselves to blame.
‘A lot of times there were 50-50’s (that went Arsenal’s way) and we had the same in 2017 – but we have to look further than this,’ Azpilicueta told chelseafc.com.
‘We have to look at ourselves. We know two weeks ago when we played against Man United (in the semi-final), we really controlled it.
‘It’s painful and a tough one to take. Obviously when you lose a final, it’s always painful.
‘We started the game well and scored an early goal which normally gives a confidence to build on but we didn’t capitalise on it.
‘We dropped our level a little bit and we were punished.’