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Slipperduke

The Camden Cad
Joined
Aug 24, 2004
Messages
4,333
Location
North London
It was a night that should have been memorable for the beauty of Michael Essien's opening goal, but it is a raging Didier Drogba who will linger in the mind's eye. Furious with the referee's failure to award any one of four possible penalties, he shouted and screamed in his face before being dragged away by stewards. Spotting a cameraman, the Ivorian decided to make his case public.

"It's a disgrace! It's a f***ing disgrace!" he roared down the lens to a rather surprised watching world, "UEFA is a disgrace!"

Emotional Chelsea players, according to a TV reporter in the tunnel, left the field claiming that UEFA didn't want a repeat of last year's final, that Michel Platini didn't want two English clubs to dominate again. It's a cute theory, and it's one that will gain much support from Chelsea fans, but it falls down on one rather major point. If Tom Henning Ovrebo really was a Platini-operative, why did he send off Eric Abidal for the heinous crime of running past Nicolas Anelka? Barcelona were trailing, they needed a goal. Surely this sinister continental cabal would have wanted to avoid that? The far more logical conclusion is that poor Ovrebo simply had a bad night at the office.

Certainly, Chelsea had reason to feel cheated. The first incident was a shirt-tug outside the box, five yards back from the touchline, followed by an obstructon inside the area, one yard from the touchline. The result? A direct free-kick right on the outside the box next to the touchline. That's a referee who has bottled a big decision and cobbled everything together to find the conclusion that will offend the least. The second appeal was rather more understandable. Drogba has found, like The Boy Who Cried Wolf, that his reputation for dishonesty has gone before him. If that had been anyone else, it would have been a spot-kick. By the third incident, the Gerard Pique handball, it becomes more difficult to be objective. In Ovrebo's defence, a penalty can only be awarded for 'deliberate' handball and if he felt that it was unintentional, then so be it. There is no excuse for the fourth appeal. No-one charges down a shot with their arms in the air. That, more than any of the others, was a certain penalty.

But Chelsea's reaction to these perceived injustices was inexcusable. Michael Ballack chased Ovrebo for 40 yards, shouting and catching the Norwegian in the face with his forearm. John Terry and Frank Lampard ran to shout at the referee at full-time. Florent Malouda and Ashley Cole both made their contribution as Ovrebo tried to leave the pitch. And then there was Drogba. When UEFA respond, and they most certainly will, they will hit the Ivorian the hardest. Tantrums are one thing, but defaming the valuable UEFA brand on live television? They'll hunt him to the ends of the earth for that.

Football is a passionate sport and, in a way, it's nice to see that at least the players care. It's certainly quite understandable. But compare and contrast the behaviour of the Chelsea players with the dignity of Darren Fletcher at The Emirates Stadium. Unjustly dismissed and robbed of a rightfully earned place in the Champions League Final, he left to the mocking jeers and taunts of the Arsenal fans. But he left the field like a man.

Chelsea, as Guus Hiddink wisely admitted, had more than enough chances to stretch their lead and should have scored in open play. They did, after all, have one golden opportunity to put the game to bed in the 52nd minute, but their striker panicked and fluffed it when he was one-on-one with the goalkeeper. Who was that culprit?

Step forward, Didier Drogba. Why is it ok for him to make critical errors, but not the referee?

TANTRUM - Nope, not Didier Drogba this time, but a new contender for the most annoying player in world football, Dani Alves. Was there ever a moment when he wasn't whining? If he had anything to be upset about it was the way that every one of his crosses went flying over the penalty area and out of play. His booking, ruling him out of the Final, was one of the more enjoyable moments for the neutral.

INVISIBLE MAN - Was Lionel Messi a late substitute, brought on the change the game? Not according to my team-sheet. His was a fine injury-time pass along the edge of the box to allow Andres Iniesta to crash home the crucial goal, but did anyone see him before that? That's two fairly anonymous performances in the big games. His reputation can't really afford a third no-show on May 27.

BRAINS OF THE OPERATION - Guus Hiddink deserves an awful lot of credit for the way he handled himself after the game. He was obviously upset about the standard of refereeing, but he didn't allow it to obscure the simple fact that Chelsea had enough chances to reach the Final without those penalties. Mind you, that plan not to bother going for the away goal in the Camp Nou doesn't look so clever now.

PUNTER'S RANT - Well, where do you start? Drogba for missing 'that chance' or the referee for missing 'those penalties'. This match will live long in the memory for all the wrong reasons, especially if you'd just put the house on Chelsea going through. Still, it could be worse. You could be Tom Henning Ovrebo.

MAN OF THE MATCH - For some reason, Barcelona kept trying to swing crosses into the penalty area, where John Terry and Alex had complete aerial superiority. Both men were immense, but Alex just edges it for the way he held himself together after picking up a yellow card that would have ruled him out of the Final.

MATCH STATS

Crowd - 37,857
Yellow Cards - Alex, Ballack, Drogba, Essien (Chelsea), Alves, Eto'o (Barcelona)
Red Cards - Abidal (Barcelona)
Chelsea -
Petr Cech 6, Jose Bosingwa 7, Ashley Cole 7, John Terry 8, Alex 8, Michael Ballack 7, Frank Lampard 7, Michael Essien 7, Florent Malouda 7, Nicolas Anelka 7, Didier Drogba 6 (Juliano Belletti 6, 72nd)
Barcelona -
Victor Valdes 7, Dani Alves 4, Yaya Toure 6, Gerard Pique 6, Eric Abial 5, Sergi Busquets 6 (Bojan 6, 85th), Xavi 6, Seydo Keita 6, Lionel Messi 5, Samuel Eto'o 5 (Silvinho 6 90th), Andres Iniesta 5 (Eidur Gudjohnsen 6, 90th)
 

Rayleigh Weir

Not just a roundabout⭐
Joined
Aug 2, 2006
Messages
1,189
I wonder what your Singapore Red Devils fanclub will make of the 'positive' Fletcher comment? It'll really mess with their paranoia complex...
 
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