|AC Milan||-||Manchester United|
Unlike some of the dross served up during the group stage of the Champion's League, this match was very entertaining. Both teams enjoyed periods of domination, and United had to withstand some sustained pressure to gain the victory. While neither defence looked particularly solid, both were assured going forwards and Rooney's classy second was the epitome of some great attacking football.
Letting the side down
Olegario Benquerenca did not put in a performance to match the spectacle. He gave a lot of free kicks (31), many of which were "soft" and several of which were plain wrong. At times it seemed like any contact, however minor, was judged to be a foul. His application of advantage was poor.
Benquerenca made a bit of a fool of himself on this front. He was far too quick to bring out the cards, and cautioned Rooney, Ronaldinho and Carrick for trivial offences where a quick lecture would have been more than sufficient. The problem arose in stoppage time when Carrick (stupidly) kicked the ball away reacting to yet another cheap foul. This is a mandatory caution, so Benquerenca had to show Carrick a second yellow and send him off. If he had applied common sense to his refereeing, the match would have finished with 22 players on the field.
His reading of the game was poor, and at times he was caught up in the middle of play. In fact, Milan were able to break and score their second goal after Benquerenca had been in the way of a Manchester United move. While he showed outstanding fitness, a top referee should be able to position himself so he does not get in the way.
Last five minutes
The last time I saw Benquerenca referee, the last five minutes were a mess where it looked like he panicked might lose control. It was almost a carbon copy tonight, and he must learn to stay calm for the duration of the match.
Based on this performance, I think Benquerenca has a lot of work to do if he wants to get to the knockout stages of the World Cup. This is certainly as far as I think he should go in this Champion's League.