Bayern net slender lead as Fiorentina undone by controversial decisions

Robben 45 (pen), Klose 89
Kroldrup 50

Wednesday night’s two Champions League last 16 knock-out ties were drenched in refereeing controversy. As Arsenal were left feeling aggrieved by the referee’s allowance of a quickly taken indirect free-kick, the Allianz Arena became a stormy setting for more spotlight on the officials as referee Tom Henning Ovrebo took centre stage. The highly charged stadium throbbed with expectation of the German red machine to take three points justly. This, however, was not the case.

Bayern Munich were firmly in the driving seat for most of the match, dictating the pace and tempo of the game. Their dominance was crafted through the wing wizardry of Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery stretching and stinging down the flanks. Dutch winger Robben constantly hovered around the box often tricking his way past the Fiorentina full-backs and squaring passes or blasting shots at Sebastian Frey, who was kept busy by the former Chelsea man. The beginning of the dodgy catalogue of decisions was Bayern’s opener, when Mario Gomez slotted home only to see it disallowed and brought back for a penalty by referee Ovrebo. The decision was hasty and unnecessary – Gomez’s goal could have simply been allowed and Ovrebro’s judgement could have had a major impact on Bayern’s chances, but fortunately Robben put away the penalty comfortably, rendering all trivial. La Viola defender Per Kroldrup equalised through a scrappy but poignant away goal, slipping the ball into the near post after the break.

The dubious decisions continued as Mark van Bommel lunged into a challenge that warranted a yellow at the very least. Massimo Gobbi was shown a red card for a body-check that did not look the least bit like a sending-off – a straight red to reduce the visitors down to 10-men was ridiculous. Five minutes later, Miroslav Klose was merely booked for a challenge that had no place on a football field as he leapt into Felipe two-footed and should have seen red. The final goal was the height of bad refereeing – Louis van Gaal’s side had threatened, but cannot say they deserved the win as the goal should not have been allowed. Klose’s diving header a minute from normal time was clearly three yards offside and how the official did not see it remains a mystery. A draw would have been justified but the decision to allow a clear offside goal summed up a harsh and unjust night for the Italians – the most unconvincing performance however, belonged to the man in black. Fiorentina were left fuming and after 89 minutes of hard work and good play away from home can only fly back to Florence feeling hard done by.

The second leg promises to be an exciting encounter but UEFA must raise the standards of refereeing as two Scandinavian referees have come under scrutiny after one night in the Champions League. It will be a fierce night in Florence in three weeks time and hopefully, with the right referee, will also have a just outcome.

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