Howard Webb Reveals The Manchester United Penalty He Awarded He Knew Was Wrong
Howard Webb once failed to send a player off for kicking another in the chest during a World Cup final, but the Englishman revealed the decision he regrets most is a penalty he gave to Manchester United.
The referee, who was accused of being biased in United's favour during his career, was in charge of a famous game in which Sir Alex Ferguson's side found themselves 2-0 down at home against Spurs at half time.
United rallied to win 5-2 but the comeback was kicked off by a controversial kick penalty, when Michael Carrick was adjudged to have been brought down by Heurelho Gomes, that Webb revealed was the one decision he wishes he could change.
"The one that stands out is one where in the game I knew I got it wrong," the 48-year-old told the Athletic, "It was a Premier League game at Old Trafford - Manchester United versus Tottenham Hotspur in 2009.
"I could see Carrick got there first and then the goalkeeper clattered into him. It was really an easy penalty award. I was expecting the usual cursory appeal that you get from the players, not the huge look of absolute astonishment and amazement and incredulousness on the look of Gomes. It was obvious within seconds I'd got the decision wrong. There was something more to this.
"I was left with the decision I had taken with no independent evidence that I'd got it wrong other than a gut feeling, and I was just hoping that Ronaldo would miss the penalty, but he didn't."
With no VAR to help the ref out, which it would do now, the penalty stood, Ronaldo scored and the defending champions went on to dominate the second half.
Rooney it made it 2-2 10 minutes later before Ronaldo put Fergie's team ahead a minute later and with 19 minutes to go it was all but game over as Rooney also scored a brace, as the Red Devils scored three in four minutes.
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Former Spurs striker Dimitar Berbatov put the finishing touches on the win by making it 5-2 with 11 minutes to go as United won relatively easily in the end.
Webb was hoping his mistake hadn't actually been one but explained that the cameraman running onto the pitch post match to focus on him and not Rooney or Ronaldo tipped him off, "When he misses all those players and runs up to you, as a ref, it's not a good feeling.
"You just know you have a world of pain coming your way."
The decision may have had a big bearing on the season as well. The reigning champs were just three points clear of rivals Liverpool going into the April game.
Rafa Benitez might have been feeling his 'Facts' rant earlier in the season was proved to be right on that day but United then remained unbeaten for the season and won the title by four points.
The loss probably had more impact on Spurs with the north London side finishing in eighth place and outside of the Europa League places by two points.
Still though, at least no one got kicked in the chest.