The appointment of Alberto Undiano to this match was a bit odd. He is normally pedantic and fussy - not the sort of referee you want for an all-English affair. Add to that the fact that he has had a poor 12 months and so probably did not merit a CL quarter final. So I was pleasantly surprised that he let the game flow nicely, played some good advantages and was generally good for 90 minutes. However, in the 92nd he got the big decision of the night wrong.
Now we see more...
At half time in the Champions League this season we have seen an advert in which Massimo Busacca looks to be concentrating very hard before Pierluigi Collina pops up to tell us that with the additional assistants (AARs) 'Now we see more'. Well tonight, in the 92nd minute Patrice Evra fouled Ramires to deny him an obvious scoring opportunity. A stonewall penalty and clear cut red card. Even though Mallenco had a good view, the AAR had an even better angle. It is baffling that between them they could not make the correct decision. And while a penalty does not necessarily mean a goal, it would have been a great opportunity for Chelsea to level the tie heading to Old Trafford.
Get rid of the AARs
These men have to be done away with. So far as I can tell their only purpose is to stand there looking smart so that Platini can feel good inside as he pretends to himself that he has improved the standard of refereeing. For some reason I have a gut feeling that if the AAR had not been there tonight, Mallenco would have given that penalty. But because the AAR had a better view Mallenco has to take the AAR's decision. The AARs are an utterly pointless PR exercise and the whole charade should be stopped at once. Note to Platini: if you really want to improve refereeing standards, try some technology!
Decent otherwise from Mallenco
Apart from the penalty, Mallenco was much improved tonight. His judgement of fouls was quite good, and he correctly denied Chelsea's second stoppage time penalty appeal when Torres decided to fall to the ground for no reason. However, Essien should have been cautioned late in the first half for a late challenge on Rooney while the caution for Van der Sar (apparently for time wasting) was a bit of the old pedantic Mallenco creeping in. In the last 10 minutes or so his control did slip and he tolerated too much dissent, especially from the ever-shameful John Terry. His signals can be a bit dodgy and unclear too, and he should work on that.