In a decisive match in the later parts of the Group Stage of the 2008-2009 Champions League, Olegario Benquerenca gave a display that underlines why he will most probably feature as a referee in the 2010 World Cup
Importance of the match
With Liverpool and Athletico Madrid having established themselves as the leaders of Group D, the fifth match day of the group stage was decisive for both Marseille and PSV Eindhoven, as to whether they would have any chance at all of qualifying for the knockout rounds, or be dropped to the UEFA cup instead. For Liverpool, the significance was primarily whether they or Athletico Madrid would be group leaders at the end of the day, getting a better seeding for the knockout stages.
Nature of the match
Despite being a match where Marseille had everything to play for, the play rarely seemed ugly, and the players tended to be pretty well behaved. Except for one single incident, there was never much pressure on the referee and his authority largely went unquestioned.
BenquerenÃ§a and assistants seemed to have full control of the game, managing to get all key decisions spot on, and rarely if ever being wrong in decisions of less significance. Especially when it came to offside decisions, BenquerenÃ§a's assistants were in total control, rarely missing the right call unless the margin between the striker and defender was less than 25 cm.
In the 83rd minute, Liverpool's Macherano made what was deemed a somewhat unnecessary tackle from behind on Marseille's Valbuena. A heated argument broke out between players, especially seeming to involve Liverpool's Arbeloa and Marseille's Niang, the net result being Niang getting a yellow card after getting physical with Arbeloa. After calming the incident, Mascherano was also given a well deserved yellow card for his tackle from behind.
Seconds later, after play resumed, Mascherano was making his way down the wing, when Valbuena found it expedient to make a 40 meter run, in order to give Mascherano a hard and unnecessary tackle from behind, as a thanks for the previous incident. Benquerenca awarded this with another yellow card.