Referee Howard Webb makes another critical decision against Liverpool at Old Trafford
Only last month Liverpool found themselves deep into injury time and up against the wall attempting to get something out of the game away to Arsenal. Liverpool were awarded a free kick outside the Arsenal box, Gerrard sends the ball over the wall only for Fabregas on the edge of the penalty area to deliberately handle it and referee Howard Webb, a few yards away, dismisses an obvious penalty and Liverpool lose the game. (Here’s the link to the post I wrote about that incident – click here).
Yesterday at Old Trafford Webb was at it again. Liverpool got off to a roaring start and had taken a deserved lead through an excellent Fernando Torres header. Things were looking good. Several minutes later, however, Valencia gets the ball and heads toward the 18 yard box only to be fouled by Mascherano a few feet outside the box but due to his momentum ends up falling inside the penalty area. Once again Webb made another critical ruling against Liverpool and judged the initial foul to have been committed inside the box and awards United a penalty which got them back into the game both from a scoring and, more importantly, a psychological point of view.
Would United have still gone on to win the game had the penalty not been given? I’m not so sure. They had the better of the play in the second half but the penalty changed the game and robbed Liverpool of the upper hand and the momentum they had created. Had Liverpool been able to frustrate United deeper into the 1st half and gone in at half-time 1-0 up we may have seen a different outcome. Poor decisions like this completely change the complexion of a match and that’s exactly what happened at Old Trafford
During an after match interview Benitez refused to make too many comments about the penalty decision but clearly felt that United getting level so quickly after Liverpool had taken the lead was a major blow and changed the game.
Let’s hope Liverpool have seen the last of Howard Webb for a long time to come.
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