The entire world stood still for 90 minutes. To watch and take in every breath of the spectacle that was to ensue. Manchester United vs Real Madrid at the Theatre of Dreams. It couldn’t get any better. However, the 200 million people who watched the game were left with a bitter taste in their mouth after a controversial red card, which pretty much ruined the game.
So, what are the top 5 Champions League related controversies of the past few seasons?
Liverpool went on to win the Champions League on penalties despite being down 3-0 at one point.
Mourinho’s Chelsea and Bentiez’s Liverpool were ready to lock horns for a place in the final that was to be held in Istanbul. Liverpool went on to achieve European glory by beating AC Milan, in what was to be a night that went down in the history books as the “greatest European night ever”.
However, few would remember that Liverpool reached that final in controversial circumstances, and on another day, there was a slight chance that there would have been a different finalist. Benitez’s team was firm in defence, repelling attack after attack from Mourinho’s Blues. However, 4 minutes into the game, Baros tested Cech, who palmed the ball away. The ball went only as far as Luis Garcia, who tapped it in. Referee Lubos Michel awarded the goal for the Reds, despite William Gallas hooking the ball away from goal, and claiming it as a clearance. Liverpool went on to win the game, and more importantly for some, won the bragging rights.
Mourinho called it the “phantom” goal. A goal that should never have stood, and a goal which should never have had such a big impact on the Chelsea players emotionally.
The King’s Cup was in the bag for Madrid, but the world was to witness another El Clasico, as the teams were drawn together for the Champions League semi-finals.
Mourinho had deployed Pepe in central midfield to break down Barcelona’s quick passing moves, and assist the other midfielders in white in getting forward as fast as possible. However, everything came crashing down when Pepe was red carded by referee Wolfgang Stark in the 61st minute, for what largely looked like a cynical challenge on Dani Alves. Studs up and coming in with quite a force on an opponent’s knee is more than enough to warrant a red card. However, slow-motion replays showed the bitter truth of how Pepe was solely going for the ball, and despite going studs up, barely touched the Brazilian defender. The damage was done though, as Barcelona went on to score 2 goals and claim an emphatic victory away from home.
Dani Alves rubbed further salt into their wounds, by coming back into play 2 minutes after being stretchered off, complete with a smile on his face.
Mourinho pretty much called this loss the most beautiful he had ever suffered. A 3-1 lead at the San Siro ensured that Inter were in total control of the tie. However, while visiting Barcelona’s backyard, they had no idea what they were set to endure for 90 minutes.
Thiago Motta was red carded by referee Frank de Bleeckere for hitting Sergio Busquets in the face. The foul plummeted Busquets’ fame, when it was shown that he was playacting, but he showed absolutely no sign of embarrassment as Motta was forced to leave the field.
Mourinho was forced to play Eto’o as a left-back, as he devised a plan to stop Barcelona from having any chance at goal. However, there was no end for the controversy, as Pique scored at the 84th minute, despite some calling it an offside. Moreover, Bojan struck for Barcelona as extra time was coming to close. The goal was however cancelled out by the referee, as the ball had struck Yaya Toure’s arm.
A 2-1 victory at the Emirates pretty much inspired every team in the English Premier League, as it proved that the best team in the world was not unbeatable. Arsenal however suffered a horrific start as they visited Camp Nou, as Fabregas’s horrible backpass put Lionel Messi through on goal, and the rest was imaginable.
However, structured, inspired and tough defending from the Gunners ensured that Arsenal somehow still looked like the favourites when Busquets scored an own goal, to shift the aggregate score to the Londoners’ favour.
However, the game was decided when Robin van Persie was shown the red card for kicking the ball away by referee Massimo Busacca. The Dutchman pleaded his case, letting the referee know that he could not hear the whistle due to the tremendous atmosphere at Camp Nou. The Catalans went on to win the tie and the Champions League as well.
The most predictable list ever, isn’t it? I have had my fair share of emotional moments as a Chelsea fan, but this however stands out, because never had the world been this unfair, and never had I felt this cheated.
Chelsea became the first team to deny Barcelona any goals at home that season. They were perfectly engineered by Guus Hiddink to hit the Catalan club on the break and make the best of their opportunities. Michael Essien gave Chelsea a thunderous start by scoring from a beautiful volley. However, the rest of the opportunites could never be taken, as the referee on that night, a certain Tom Henning Øvrebø, turned down 4 stonewall penalties appeals, which could have won Chelsea the game.
Iniesta brought out the horror in a nightmare of a night for Chelsea fans by scoring an away goal in the last minute of normal time. Chelsea however pushed on, and deep into added time, had another clear penalty appeal turned down, leading to Ballack’s reaction, which later became viral over the Internet.