|Manchester United||-||Athletic Bilbao|
In a fast-paced, end-to-end match Athletic played superbly and on footballing merit deserved their victory. However, one could argue that with more competent match officials Bilbao would not have scored their 2nd and 3rd goals, as two disastrous blunders from the German refereeing team stole the second-half headlines.
What went well
For some matches you need a referee with a strong personality, like Wolfgang Stark or Olegario Benquerenca. But for matches like this you need a referee who is a bit more anonymous, and Florian Meyer's style contributed to the pace of the match and helped to make it so entertaining to watch. He and his team were faultless in the first half, and Meyer was correct to award Manchester a penalty in the dying minutes for a handball.
What went wrong part 1
Bilbao's second goal should not have counted. As the ball was played to De Marcos he was very obviously offside, and it should have been a very easy decision for the AR to raise the flag. However, the AR was perhaps a metre out of position, ahead of the Manchester United defence. This was incredibly poor work from the AR, and I think he will be rightly embarrassed when he sees the footage.
What went wrong part 2
I may have set my standards too high, but I rather expect UEFA elite referees to be familiar with the laws of the game and the FIFA guidance on their interpretation. Florian Meyer seems not to have paid too much attention to his rulebook in recent times. The current FIFA interpretation of Law 4 states: "If a player loses his footwear accidentally and immediately plays the ball and/or scores a goal, there is no infringement and the goal is awarded because he lost his footwear by accident." Thus Meyer's handling of the Evra incident was, in my opinion, not correct in law. It was perhaps unfortunate for Meyer that the free kick he awarded set up Bilbao's third goal.