A late Barcelona goal courtesy of Andres Iniesta at Stamford Bridge on this day in 2009 dumped Chelsea out of the Champions League semi-finals, as poor refereeing decisions took centre stage.
After the first leg at the Nou Camp finished 0-0, it was a case of whoever won in the second leg had a place in the final.
Michael Essien’s rip-roaring weak foot strike from 20 yards gave Chelsea the lead after nine minutes, but the remainder of the game was ridden with questionable refereeing decisions.
Dismay at refereeing decisions
Tom Øvrebø was the on-pitch referee during the match, and he was the centre of attention throughout. Midway through the first half, Chelsea’s Florent Malouda was hauled down by Dani Alves on the on the left side of the penalty area - the Blues players insisted the foul was committed on the line of the box, but Øvrebø gave a free-kick. Chelsea had their chances to extend their lead, as a corner was won from the freekick, but John Terry headed his effort wide.
Two minutes later Didier Drogba was put through on goal by Frank Lampard, but was brought down in the penalty area by Barcelona defender Eric Abidal, as the replays showed that the Frenchman appeared to have pulled on Drogba’s shirt. The incident was ignored by Øvrebø, much to Drogba's disgust.
Six minutes into the second half, Drogba had a golden chance to make it 2-0, went he sent Gerard Pique sliding with a lovely cutback onto his left foot eight yards out, but the Ivorian fired his shot against the right leg of visiting keeper Victor Valdes.
Not long after, Abidal was given his marching orders as he clipped the heel of Nicolas Anelka who was running in on goal, leaving Barcelona a man short for the remaining half an hour.
With nine minutes of the game remaining, Chelsea had another huge appeal for a penalty turned down, as Anelka’s attempted flick towards goal was blocked by the outstretched right arm of Pique; the home fans started to vent their frustration, with jeers ringing around Stamford Bridge.
Blues stunned by late goal
Chelsea hearts were broken with two minutes of added time remaining, when Lionel Messi’s layoff to Iniesta 19 yards out allowed the Spaniard to produce a fine shot with the outside of his right foot, which flew past Petr Cech into the top right corner. With this away goal, Barcelona looked set to book their place in the final in Rome.
Chelsea were awarded a corner in the dying seconds. The ball was cleared by Barcelona to a waiting Michael Ballack on the edge of the box, and his shot towards goal struck the underside of Samuel Eto’o’s arm, with Øvrebø waving away what looked a certain penalty, that if scored would have surely put the Blues through to the final.
Pandemonium ensued, as Ballack chased Øvrebø for the best part of 20 seconds, screaming in the official’s face for a penalty.
The final whistle blew, and Chelsea captain John Terry and Ballack were the first to approach Øvrebø and question his decisions over the course of the game. Drogba meanwhile, was booked by Øvrebø for his protests towards him after the game and had to be restrained by multiple coaching staff on the touchline, as he shouted to the cameras: ‘’It’s a disgrace, a disgrace!’’
On a night of resentment and exasperation, this was the game that no Chelsea fan will want to talk about again, but it is unfortunately one that will stick in their minds for years to come.