Andre Villas-Boas felt the decision to award Manchester United a second penalty swung the balance of the game in their favour at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.
We had been well in control at 3-0 up before Howard Webb awarded the visitors two spot kicks in quick succession, the first following a trip by Daniel Sturridge on Patrice Evra, but the second was a controversial call by referee Howard Webb, who harshly adjudged Branislav Ivanovic to have tripped Danny Welbeck inside the box.
‘It’s a difficult one. The first one is obviously a penalty and the second one is very, very dubious,’ Villas-Boas said afterwards. ‘I don’t know if Howard Webb has the correct angle to make a decision. Maybe the linesman gave it, I am not sure but it’s very unlucky to give a penalty like that. I am not sure if he is compensating for anything in the first half but it is the wrong decision.
‘In the end the stimulus for United from 3-1 to 3-2 is immense and the 3-3 is almost normal service for them, a big comeback with great desire and ambition. United never give up and managed to get the result they wanted, a draw coming back from 3-0.
‘It’s a big disappointment with how it happened. We expect in top games top refs and at the moment it hasn’t been happening for us. At Old Trafford there were two goals offside and today a dubious decision that shifted the running of the game.
‘In both games against United, you expect this to be perfect in terms of refereeing and in these two they have had direct influence on the result. Today a dubious decision helped United to go to 3-3
‘But no excuses, 3-0 up is an excellent result and it’s a pity we couldn’t hold on to the lead. There was a big chance to go 4-3 but David De Gea made a great save.’
The manager felt debutant Gary Cahill, who forced one late stop from De Gea, as did Juan Mata, had fouled Welbeck in the first half, a foul Webb did not award, but that the defender was not lucky to stay on the pitch as United manager Sir Alex Ferguson had suggested.
‘The ball is running towards the line, the player is going away [from goal],’ he pointed out. ‘I think the foul is outside thebox to be fair, so maybe a yellow card and a free-kick, but I’m not sure the ref is compensating for something after. The second is too soft to be true. Welbeck’s legs collided with Ivanovic and you cannot give a penalty for that.’
Villas-Boas also felt his side could still have scored more despite United’s heavy pressure when chasing the game.
‘There was an impetus of motivation in the first 10 minutes of the second half, a positivity and initiative, which was more on our side in the first half and those 10 minutes in the second half where we shifted it to 3-0,’ the Portuguese said. ‘At 3-0 down you expect to be threatened in a different way and Sir Alex made attacking substitutions which paid off very well.
‘You have to bear in mind the opponent has nothing to lose so they attack. Through keeping more of the ball you can find solutions to score one more, which we did to be fair, we had Fernando through on goal and if he shoots it could be 4-2, so there were situations occurring maybe on the counter. ‘
The 34-year-old expressed his frustration for the Chelsea fans, who had backed their side magnificently throughout the 90 minutes.
‘What’s important is the disappointment of our fans towards a result like this, and they are right. We wanted to give them a lift in terms of motivation and it’s a pity we couldn’t give them the satisfaction for the support they put through,’ he said.
It is hoped that Frank Lampard and John Mikel Obi may yet be fit for next weekend’s trip to Everton, but Ramires and John Terry are likely to remain sidelined. Ashley Cole will return from suspension.