The rules of probability always suggested that one day it might happen, but I honestly never though I’d see the day…
During the second leg of the Champions League quarter final at the Vicente Calderon, a pivotal and controversial refereeing decision went AGAINST Barcelona to hand their opposition victory.
The decision was the icing on the cake for yet another famous night for Atletico Madrid as the current Champions League holders crashed out of the competition 3-2 on aggregate. A smart header from Antoine Griezmann in the opening 45 minutes was coupled with defensive endurance in front of Atleti’s goal.
As Los Rojiblancos absorbed mounting Barcelona pressure, they seized their opportunity to break on the Barcelona goal – Felipe Luis drawing a penalty after Andres Iniesta’s deliberate handball denied a clear goalscoring opportunity… Iniesta didn’t even receive a yellow card.
Seconds after referee, Nicola Rizzoli had awarded the Atletico penalty – duly converted for by Griezmann for his second of the evening – he awarded a free-kick to Barcelona on the edge of Atletico’s penalty area after Gabi appeared to handle the ball, preventing Iniesta’s cross.
— BT Sport Football (@btsportfootball) April 14, 2016
The replays show the ball stricking Gabi’s arm inside the box, but a free-kick was the only Atletico retribution – fittingly smashed wide by Lionel Messi.
Despite Barcelona’s abysmal record from the spot this season, they clearly felt aggrieved at not receiving the decision in their favour and crowded the refereeing, harassing him to award a spot-kick – at 2-1 the tie would’ve gone to extra time.
After the fiasco of the first leg at the Camp Nou, where Torres was sent off and Suarez somehow avoided an early bath – many felt that justice was served as vital decision finally went against Barcelona in European Football, perhaps abolishing the associations of ‘Uefalona’ at least for the remainder of this season’s campaign.
Speaking with a wry smile after the game, hand-ball culprit, Gabi remarked:
“Yes, there was a hand,”
“I am on the line, it hits me in the hand. The referee whistled it outside, I don’t know if the hand was inside or outside.”
“Sometimes they go for you, sometimes they don’t. But we cannot focus on just this one incident, we deserved to go through.”
No-one can deny that Atletico deserved their place in the semi-finals… although Barcelona fans will certainly try.
So to prevent any fanboys immediately reaching for their pitchforks, here’s a gentle reminder of just a few instances where Barca have benefitted from questionable refereeing decisions in their Champions League history:
Robin Van Persie Red Card
Everything About The Chelsea Match In 2009
Busquets Dramatics Vs Inter Milan