Anyone who classes themselves as a Chelsea fan should remember one of the most controversial nights in the history of the club. The date was May 6, 2009 and the Blues were in with a huge chance of successive Champions League finals against Manchester United after a goalless draw at the Nou Camp in the first leg of the semi-final.
However, in a night marred by a number of very dubious decisions from referee Tom Henning Øvrebø, they were denied that chance by a stunning last-minute strike from Andres Iniesta. The majority of Stamford Bridge was in uproar throughout the match despite their side winning 1-0 from the ninth minute onwards. This wasn’t because of the performances of Guus Hiddink’s men, but the performance of the man in the middle.
The hosts had penalty appeal after penalty appeal turned down by the Norweigan official, the clearest of which saw the ball strike Gerard Pique’s extremely outstretched hand in the box. After the final whistle, Didier Drogba led the protests and received disciplinary action after claiming the game was a “disgrace” paired with some expletives in front of one of the TV cameras.
“Maybe Chelsea would have qualified”
In an interview with Marca ahead of Chelsea and Barcelona’s last-16 tie on Tuesday night, Øvrebø has apologised to the Blues and admitted to his “mistakes” on that night.
“I was responsible for the decisions that were made and we can argue that, if I had taken others, maybe Chelsea would have qualified for the final,” The retired referee was surprisingly understanding about the situation.
“We will never know. I made decisions and they were not the best. But it is difficult to say if, without that arbitration, Barcelona would have been eliminated or not.”
Antonio Conte and his side will need all the luck they can get if they are to beat a Barcelona team that are still unbeaten in La Liga this term. Let’s hope they have a more competent referee for what could turn out to be their most important game of the season.