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Referee Tom Henning Ovrebo Admits Chelsea Should Have Had A Penalty Against Barcelona In 2009

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Referee Tom Henning Ovrebo Admits Chelsea Should Have Had A Penalty Against Barcelona In 2009

Referee Tom Henning Ovrebo has admitted that Chelsea probably did deserve a penalty in their hugely controversial Champions League semi-final loss against Barcelona on this day in 2009.

Ovrebo became a hate figure for all Chelsea fans after his performance in that match, denying them the penalty that would have surely seen their side into the final on a number of occasions.

Chelsea took the lead through Michael Essien’s stunning strike, but in the days of away goals, Barca needed only an equaliser to progress to the final.

That equaliser came from the magic feet of Andres Iniesta as time ticked away, leaving the Blues fans in Stamford Bridge enraged with the referee’s performance.

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Chelsea's players were living with Ovrebo. Credit: Shutterstock
Chelsea's players were living with Ovrebo. Credit: Shutterstock

Such was the disappointment that the decisions are still being spoken about 13 years later, and now Ovrebo has given his opinion.

He told Sportsmail: “I'm sure the end of the match would have been much easier for us as a refereeing team if that [Iniesta] goal had not been scored

“Chelsea would have gone through to the final and their supporters would have gone to the pub and said, ‘maybe we should have had one or two or three or four or five or six penalties... but it doesn't matter tonight because we're through to the final.’

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“Of course, as a referee you know a goal like that creates more discussion and more reactions and more controversies around the decisions you have already made in the match.”

Ovrebo waved away penalty shouts from Florent Malouda, who was chopped down by Dani Alves close to the edge of the penalty box, then Didier Drogba, who was tackled by Eric Abidal.

With the Bridge crowd already baying for his blood, Ovrebo then waved away appeals for a handball against Gerard Pique then – after Iniesta’s strike – against Samuel Eto’o.

Chelsea thought they should have had several penalties. Credit: Shutterstock
Chelsea thought they should have had several penalties. Credit: Shutterstock
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The Norwegian official admits now that the atmosphere did start to get to him.

He continued: “It can start to get into your head, but it's important for a referee and a referee team to have laser-like focus.

“That's not easy all the time, but for us it's about the next situation and you can't think too much about the situation that passed already.

“It was important to keep our focus and to continue to stay concentrated and attentive.

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“Of course, you can always feel the tension in the match and in the stands, but that's a part of the game and the atmosphere is always nice in matches like this.”

After the game, the referee was surrounded by Chelsea players demanding to know why the whistle hadn’t gone for a penalty.

Now, he admits that perhaps they had a point.

“I don't think the Chelsea supporters are correct when they claim four of five penalties, but I think everybody that knows football and the laws of the game knows there should have been a penalty given,” he said.

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There were angry scenes after the match. Credit: Shutterstock
There were angry scenes after the match. Credit: Shutterstock

“That happens, especially before VAR. Sometimes you miss a penalty, sometimes you miss a red card or a crucial decision. And I think everybody that knows football knows there should have been a penalty.

“They can speculate themselves which ones should have been a penalty. I will not give you a correct answer on that because I don't have the correct answer, I just have my perception of it.

“In a match like that when you have so many penalty appeals, sometimes as a referee you get concerned about not being fooled by the team,

“So maybe that could have influenced my perception in a negative way.

“That could be it. I don't know for sure, I'm just speculating with you.

“That could be one kind of explanation, that you don't want to seem like a referee that is pressured to give a penalty.

“So then maybe you perceive the situation more strictly in a way."

Ovrebo now admits that perhaps Chelsea should have had a penalty. Credit: Shutterstock
Ovrebo now admits that perhaps Chelsea should have had a penalty. Credit: Shutterstock

“If I had VAR in that match I'm sure some of the calls would have been different.

“But I can't go around reflecting on my performance as long as I did my best. I can learn from it and that was maybe the most important thing, but for me I can't go around and regret some of my calls.

“I made other mistakes during my 40 years as a referee and I can't regret all of them.”

Featured Image Credit: UEFA

Topics: Champions League, Football, Chelsea, Barcelona

Tom Wood
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