How often do we come across a referee that makes Mike Riley seem like the Dalai Llama of football referees? Today, we witnessed a great spectacle turn into a great debacle. This game too shall go down in history as a game known for its botched refereeing rather than football quality.
The match can be described as a decent game of football with both teams creating chances. Chelsea opened up to attack some more while not compromising on their defense, and Barcelona was doing what they do the best—retaining possession and creating chances.
The first goal came courtesy of Essien. Chelsea held on well to their lead until an injury time goal from Iniesta shattered their dreams. The scoreline read 1-1 with Barcelona advancing, thanks to the away goal rule.
That should have been the main story of the match, but that is not what will make the head lines, folks. The real story will focus on one of the worst officiating that the history of the game has witnessed in recent times.
Three clear penalties were denied to the home team: Abidal's challenge on Drogba, Malouda being bought down, and a Pique handball. Gerrard Pique acknowledged the handball after the game—a noteworthy mention for the man's honesty. The referee, however, did not award any penalty to Chelsea. How can a referee not see three clear penalties is truly surprising, considering the importance of this game for both the clubs.
Another shameful incident worth mentioning is the sending off of Abidal for a foul he did not commit. Replays clearly showed that there was minimal contact between Anelka and Abidal. Barcelona now have to face Manchester United without many of their first choice defenders.
Perhaps a parting gift from the referee to Barcelona? When the dust settles and the party music dies in Barcelona the truth will be realized that they too were on the receiving side of an injustice.
Anyways, moving on to the awards section for the Chelsea-Barcelona game:
- The award for "Most Honest Player" goes to: Gerrard Pique and his acknowledgement of the handball
- The award for "Best Summing Up" goes to: Didier Drogba's excellent summation of the refereeing for the match
- The award for "Karma Gotcha" goes to: Eric Abidal, for receiving the red for not tripping Anelka while he escaped a penalty for the foul on Drogba
- The award for "Golden Boot" goes to: Victor Valdes and his boot for saving Drogba's shot on goal with his Boot-y.
- The award for "Im hot cos im fly" goes to: Andres Iniesta for giving Barcelona the lifeline.
- The award for "You Aint Cos you not" goes to: All the Chelsea shot missers.
- The final award for the "Peter Kenyon lookalike that even Chelsea fans hate" goes to: Tom Henning Overbo.