|Tottenham Hotspur||-||AC Milan|
For all the dross that you have to suffer during the group stage, the Champions League is able to produce some excellent games when the knockouts come around. This was very much one of them, fast paced and exciting, with two good teams who wanted to play and a good referee who knew how to let the game flourish.
After Stephanne Lannoy's horror show in the first leg, UEFA were always going to appoint Frank de Bleeckere to take charge of this match. He has a wealth of experience in the Champions League, and that was very evident from the way he handled the match.
A matter of control
de Bleeckere had what Lannoy didn't: control. He awarded a lot of free kicks in the first half, some of which were a bit soft, but this allowed him to establish with the players what was and was not acceptable. He used varying whistle tones quite effectively in response to the severity of different fouls. He warned several players, including Sandro, about persistent infringement after which they behaved themselves. He only needed three yellows to control the match, all of which were correct.
Not all correct though
Walter Vromans got an offside decision badly wrong early in the second half, ruling Modric offside when he was at least 2 metres onside. And there was one debatable moment when Tottenham had appeals for a penalty turned down: the ball ran off Seedorf's thigh and onto his arm which was raised slightly. de Bleeckere decided it was not deliberate handball, but I think 6 times out of 10 those would be given as a penalty. So not wrong, but not right either. Two other handball appeals were correctly denied since they were obviously not deliberate.
Even though he won the ball, Flamini was rightly cautioned for the reckless manner in which he made a late challenge for the ball From that moment on he was a walking red card, and it was perhaps a good thing that he was substituted. de Bleeckere is one referee who would not have shirked his responsibility and would have produced a red if needed (take note Mr Lannoy and Mr Webb).