There were some beautiful scenes at Wembley yesterday as Tottenham lifted the Carling Cup. Essien and Zokora shaking hands as the Chelsea man made his way off the pitch, the delight on Woodagte’s face after he scored what turned out the winner and, most of all, the tears (or what looked like tears anyway) in Keane’s eyes after the final whistle went. Among the great things that happened on the pitch yesterday was a performance which deserved a man of the match award from the man in green.
In over 120 minutes of football I counted 2 mistakes by Mr. Halsey. Maybe there were more but in any case, he did better that any one referee in any one matched so far this season. But before I go any further I want to highlight that the penalty decision, which I found rather dubious, was given by the assistant referee after Halsey waved play on.
Okay, so onto the actual Carling Cup Final and the two mistakes I found:
The first one came on 28 minutes when he nearly gifted the lead to Tottenham. A long ball was controlled by Keane on the edge of the area who laid the ball for Steed Malbranque. The latter whipped a low shot near side and forced a good save out of Petr Cech. The fault? Remember Keane controlling the ball? He seemed to use his left arm in doing so. Had the ball ended in the net, I would not be praising the ref right now, but fortunately it all came to nothing.
He committed his second offense just 8 minutes later when he failed to spot Carvalho’s attempt to knock out Jenas. Perhaps it was bookable offence and had he given it, the game would have changed dramatically (notice the sarcasm) in the last minute of the first half of extra time when Carvalho was finally booked for a pretty bad tackle.
The actual penalty decision I found rather icky for the following reason: you would have been hard pressed to fit in two feet between Huddlestone and Bridge when the incident occurred. It would be very hard to tell whether the handball was intentional or accidental as Bridge was fidgeting for space. To be noted that I do not see this decision as wrong, just “icky”.
Special praise must go to both sets of players who played a really clean game for most part. The dirty time-wasting tactics at the end of the game by certain Tottenham players were rightfully punished by the ref and there was little in the way of dirty during the rest of the game. Fair play and hopefully we will see this attitude from players more often.
Finally Zokora and Chimbonda deserve some complementary red cards or suspensions of some kind. As he was being substituted the commentator properly described the Frenchman as “a little schoolboy!” As for Zokora: someone please tell him that he needs to learn how to shoot. You need this skill in football, you know.
I do have one more thing to say: I hope that Eduardo makes a speedy and complete recovery following that (18+) injury. It has surfaced in some quarters that I am happy that he is injured or that I hope he does not return to football. Complete rubbish! Get well soon, lad!!