It says a lot about Chelsea’s 2009 Champions League semi-final against Barcelona that no one still speaks about Andres Iniesta’s dramatic and brilliant late equalising goal.
How could they when fans still fume about decisions made by referee Tom Henning Ovrebo? And especially in a week when he has admitted that night in Stamford Bridge was not his best.
So a game that featured two long range scorchers — Michael Essien the other scorer — has become defined by scenes like Didier Drogba screaming ‘it is a f****** disgrace’ down the camera at full-time.
Michael Ballack screams at referee Tom Henning Ovrebo after a questionable call in 2009
Chelsea’s Didier Drogba infamously labelled the game as a ‘f***ing disgrace’ live on television
The Ivorian striker ended up screaming down the camera lens at the end of the match
The game started brilliantly for Chelsea – Michael Essien scored a wonder strike from range
The tension was already bubbling inside Stamford Bridge before Iniesta’s strike hit the back of the Chelsea net.
Chelsea had led from the ninth minute of the tie but were convinced they should have been further ahead.
Over the course of the game they had four different appeals for a penalty turned down, with one in particular – a handball by defender Gerard Pique – the most egregious of the lot.
Others also contributed to a poisonous atmosphere. Florent Malouda seemed to have been taken down by Dani Alves inside the box. Ovrebo indicated there had been a foul but that it took place outside of the area, giving a free-kick instead.
Andres Iniesta runs off after scoring his dramatic and brilliant late goal for Barcelona
Chelsea: Cech, Bosingwa, Alex, Terry, Ashley Cole, Lampard, Essien, Ballack, Anelka, Drogba (Belletti 72), Malouda
Subs Not Used: Hilario, Ivanovic, Di Santo, Mikel, Kalou, Mancienne
Booked: Essien, Alex, Ballack
Goal: Essien 9
Barcelona: Valdes, Alves, Toure, Pique, Abidal, Busquets (Bojan 85), Xavi, Keita, Messi, Eto’o (Sylvinho 90), Iniesta (Gudjohnsen 90)
Subs Not Used: Pinto, Caceres, Hleb, Pedro
Sent Off: Abidal (66)
Booked: Dani Alves, Eto’o
Goal: Iniesta 90
Referee: Ovrebo (Norway)
The soon to be furious Drogba was then the victim of a failed appeal after appearing to be held back by Eric Abidal.
Another followed soon after. He collided with Yaya Toure in the box but the penalty was not given after the Ivorian midfielder seemed to take the ball and not his compatriot.
Not that the decisions only went against Chelsea.
Barcelona had reason to be aggrieved after Abidal was dismissed in the 65th minute for an innocuous tangle with Nicolas Anelka.
Then came Iniesta’s strike. It was a hammerblow to Chelsea and there were subsequent angry scenes on the touchline.
This primarily focused on an apparent knock to manager Guus Hiddink as Barcelona celebrated the goal that would take them to the final — and be key to Pep Guardiola picking up a treble in his first season as a manager.
Petr Cech can only dive in vain as Iniesta’s rocket flies past him during added time in 2009
Iniesta’s goal was not the last moment of drama in the match. Michael Ballack smacked a volley towards goal that was blocked by Samuel Eto’o, but it seemed to strike his arm. Ovrebo refused to give a decision amid the appeals, which included Ballack chasing him up the pitch, anger etched on his face.
This weekend, Ovrebo spoke to the Spanish press about the game: ‘It was not my best day, really. But those mistakes can be committed by a referee… and sometimes a player or a coach.
‘Some days you’re not at the level you should be. I can’t be proud of that performance.
Drogba chased the referee around the pitch after the final whistle over the decisions
OTHER TOP CLASHES BETWEEN CHELSEA AND BARCELONA
April 24 2012: Barcelona 2-2 Chelsea
Few believed a struggling Chelsea side would go to the Nou Camp and get anything out of their semi-final. They went through courtesy of a Ramires wonder goal and a redemptive strike for Fernando Torres, his injury time goal sending commentator Gary Neville into a minor meltdown on live television.
February 22 2006: Chelsea 1-2 Barcelona
This game was most notable as Lionel Messi’s first game in England. The 18-year-old completely ran the show, to the extent that Asier Del Horno decided the only way to stop him was to completely take him out. Turns out he’s difficult to stop, red card challenge or not.
March 8 2005: Chelsea 4-2 Barcelona
It’s easy to forget that Chelsea went through in this tie because the game has been defined by a stunning toe-poke from Ronaldinho. It seemed to have sent Barcelona to the quarter-finals until a late John Terry header put Jose Mourinho’s side through.
‘They were handball situations. I judged them on the pitch and I think it is not interesting to know what I think of those actions once judged, although I understand that people think differently to the decisions I made at the time. That discussion will continue eternally.
‘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.
‘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.’
Droba seemed to agree that the referee had not performed, running onto the field to begin that famous tirade.
It only took a few months — and a three-match Champions League ban — for him to regret his decision. That, in part, came because of some embarrassing feedback from his son.
‘My son was watching with his friends from school and I was embarrassed by my behaviour,’ he said. ‘The good thing was that Isaac came to me and said, “It’s not right what you did, dad, you should have had more penalties but it’s not right to do that to referees”.
‘I told him never to do what I did. He’s 8 and plays for Chelsea Under-9s, but is very different to me. He’s really calm.’
You have to imagine he did not chase his dad around the room telling him it was a ‘disgrace’.
The Ivorian striker later revealed that his son was unhappy with his actions after the game
The dejected Chelsea players stand on the pitch as the semi-final slipped away from them
Drogba had to be dragged away from the camera by Guus Hiddink and Paul Clement