Bayern Munich 2-1 Fiorentina Goals: 46' Robben (pen), 89' Klose; 50' Kroldrup
Bayern Munich 2-1 Fiorentina
Goals: 46' Robben (pen), 89' Klose; 50' Kroldrup
We all love football because of the highs and lows; the way a game can change with the flick of a boot or the nod of a head; its unpredictability. But there are times when its injustices make you question your attachment to the sport.
Fiorentina travelled to Germany as massive underdogs. Bayern had scored 39 goals in their last 11 games, Fiorentina had picked up only 2 points from the last 12 in the league. But as happens so often in football, the form book was thrown out the window when the Champions League music started. Far from being outplayed, Fiorentina matched the German giants blow for blow.
It was a couple of moments midway through the first half that should have raised the warning signs for what was to come, however. I’m not talking about any great Bayern chances (there were none), but two pieces of “play” by Van Bommel. First was a two footed jump at Montolivo, right in front of Tom Henning Ovrebo, the referee, who saw fit to only book him for it. Van Bommel then proceeded to dive a few minutes later – and Ovrebo must have thought it a dive as no foul was given. But no second yellow was produced.
Bayern of course then took an undeserved lead in stoppage time of the first half, Robben slotting home a penalty (although Ovrebo made another strange decision here, not allowing Gomez to score a rebound from the foul leading to the penalty, and instead making the Germans score again from the spot). That didn’t halt Prandelli’s men however, who quickly grabbed a deserved equaliser from Per Kroldrup following a corner.
It appeared the strange decision-making of Ovrebo would not harm them after all. But then Robben ran down the right wing. Gobbi turned, his elbow slightly raised admittedly, which led to Robben sprawling to the floor. It was a foul for obstruction, perhaps a harsh ref would say yellow, but incredibly Ovrebo, with the help of his assistant, pulled out a straight red.
Handing advantage to the Germans in such a way meant you feared the worst for Fiorentina, but again they stood resolute. Then Klose put in what can only be described as a leg-breaking challenge on Felipe, two feet off the ground, leading with his left foot, his studs cracking into the Brazilian’s shin. A straight red, in anyone’s book, particularly as it happened right in front of the linesman. But no, Ovrebo decided it was only a yellow.
Despite these ridiculous decisions, Fiorentina held on until the last minute. But they hadn’t banked on Ovrebo and his assistant playing their final card. And they saved the best for last. Robben hit a powerful shot from the right, which Frey beat out to Olic, whose header found Klose unmarked 5 yards out, and he headed home. Only it was obvious to everyone, in real time, never mind slow motion, that Klose was about two metres offside from Olic’s header. Not only that, he was offside from Robben’s initial shot.
The linesman was right in line as Olic headed it across and yet his flag amazingly stayed down. Fiorentina’s players were rightly furious, leading to a booking for Vargas. Frankly they deserve a medal for not completely losing the plot at the linesman and Ovrebo. His performance, from start to finish, was nothing short of a disgrace, daylight robbery from a Fiorentina side who deserved far more. It would be very easy to make a case for outright cheating, so bad and biased were his decisions. Even Sky’s pundits sided with the Italian team, which tells you something in itself.
Ovrebo has form for this, of course. He was the man at the centre of controversy in the Chelsea – Barcelona semi-final last year. He made bad decisions then, and yet he was awarded with another important Champions League tie. No doubt UEFA were sure he would justify their faith. Sadly he only showed how incompetent he – and by association – they are. Perhaps he will never be allowed to referee another important top level game again.
Sadly for Fiorentina and their fans that will be little consolation.