May 6, 2009

One handball aside, Chelsea only have themselves to blame

A stoppage time equalizer by Barcelona's Andres Iniesta sealed the deal at Stamford Bridge, giving us a Man United - Barca Champions League finale in three weeks' time. Chelsea led most of the match and even had a man advantage after a somewhat harsh red card to Eric Abidal. Blues had plenty of chances to put the game to bed as well. Their failure to do so (especially with a man advantage) leaves us without much sympathy for Guus Hiddinck's men.

To be sure, Chelsea were robbed when a late handball by Gerard Pique was not called. But the way Chelsea's attackers were missing the net, we're not sure they would have converted the penalty anyway. Didier Drogba, how do you not put that one (early in the second half) past the goalkeeper? There's simply no excuse for that at this level of the competition. It should have been game, set and match at that point.

Chelsea will have a handful of claims for other penalties. Only one is even close to legitimate (Yaya Toure's first half foul on Drogba). Michael Ballack's antics after the non-call in the closing seconds were embarrassing and frankly worthy of fine or suspension or both. No way that should have been a penalty, so the referee's decision was the right one. If you factor in a few calls that favored Blues (the aforementioned red card and the first half free kick outside the area on what was a blatant dive come to mind) then there really is no great sense of injustice here. Instead of claiming one, Chelsea should look in the mirror and ask themselves why they were unable to put this game away.

Lastly, a word on the equalizer. Having watched the replay several times, we think Petr Cech should have done better to get a hand on it. He didn't move quickly enough across his goal line in anticipation of the shot and was not in a good position to save it as a result. He basically gave Iniesta the short corner instead of making the Spaniard shoot across his body (and through a sea of defenders) into the far corner of the goal. Was it a great shot? Yes. Was there a blown defensive assignment in there? Absolutely. But Cech needed to do better with it. A truly worldclass goalkeeper would have made the save.


  1. First of all: Great list.

    Second: Although I'm a Barca fan I truly believe 1 and 2 should be reversed. From my point of view, United are favorites in the final.

  2. im unhappy to hear that you can say chelsea should look in the mirror after all the referee was against chelsea and we were 1-0 up the whole match and we were the better team. I agree that drogba missed an easy cheap goal to finish barca but the ref gave away too many chances.