Chelsea were superior than Tottenham and richly deserved their FA Cup final berth on Sunday evening, but they were literally helped over the line by referee Martin Atkinson.
Juan Mata (or was it John Terry?)'s effort appeared not to cross the Spurs goal-line, but Atkinson awarded the Blues a second goal to double their lead early in the second half of the Wembley clash.
For the second successive season, Chelsea were the beneficiaries of a goal against the north London side when the ball hadn't crossed the line. Frank Lampard's shot at Stamford Bridge last season was spilled by Heurelho Gomes, but he grabbed the ball before it trickled over the line. Linesman Mike Cairns incorrectly said it had though.
Atkinson however is gaining quite the reputation for helping Chelsea, as the following cock-ups would suggest. Here is a list of the Yorkshireman's worst clangers in the Premier League, even going as far back to when he was a linesman!
THIERRY HENRY SCORES AGAINST MANCHESTER UNITED, APRIL 2003
Running the line for a huge title showdown, Atkinson allowed Thierry Henry's goal - which gave Arsenal a 2-1 lead - to stand despite the Frenchman standing in a clear offside position. United equalised seconds after the restart and the game ended 2-2.
CHELSEA 1-0 MANCHESTER UNITED, NOVEMBER 2009
"Twelve men," Wayne Rooney mouthed into an on-pitch camera after the game. Atkinson had denied United a penalty in the first period but showcased his staggering officiating via a flurry of decisions in the following 45. Darren Fletcher was adjudged to have fouled Ashley Cole when he had played the ball, and from the resultant free-kick, John Terry scored as an offside Didier Drogba tried to make contact (ergo, he is "active") whilst fouling Wes Brown. Terry's header was the winner.
ASTON VILLA'S PENALTY V BIRMINGHAM CITY, APRIL 2010
Roger Johnson executed a perfectly timed tackle on Gabriel Agbonlahor, yet Atkinson inexplicably awarded a penalty. Birmingham were fined £10,000 due to their players' conduct after they swarmed the referee, while Johnson was fined £7,500 for comments about Atkinson he made to the media after the match.
"The referee was a disgrace. He's ruined the match and clearly shouldn't be doing these kind of games - it was too big for him," the current Wolves captain said after the defeat.
"I got the ball cleanly, everyone could see that, and the ref can't make a decision if he's not sure. The rules say if you're not sure, you don't give a penalty."
SUNDERLAND V STOKE: A HANDBALL OR A GOAL? NEITHER, NOVEMBER 2010
At 1-0 down, Kenwyne Jones' header was handballed by Cattermole on the line, which should have seen him sent off and a penalty awarded to Stoke, but that wasn't given. However the ball was actually over the line, so a goal would have pacified the Potters, but that wasn't given. They ended up losing 2-0.
CHELSEA 2-1 MANCHESTER UNITED
Somehow Atkinson, despite the past season's controversies in the same fixture, was appointed for the same match again. And he outdid himself.
Several Chelsea fouls were ignored, with serial offender Branislav Ivanovic escaping a booking while David Luiz was not sent off or censured for either one of two fouls against Javier Hernandez and Wayne Rooney, having already been yellow-carded. Add what Sir Alex Ferguson described as a "soft" penalty into the melee, and Sir Alex Ferguson was furious.
"You want a fair referee, or a strong referee anyway - and we didn't get that." An FA tribunal gave the Scot a five-match touchline ban for his comments.
JACK RODWELL RED-CARDED FOR CHALLENGE ON LUIS SUAREZ, OCTOBER 2011
"I think we would have been disappointed if a foul was given," stated Everton manager David Moyes after Rodwell was sent off for, well, nothing. Suarez's over-reaction perhaps aided Atkinson's decision, but his view of the tackle could hardly have been better.
ROBERT HUTH RED-CARDED FOR CHALLENGE ON DAVID MEYLER, FEBRUARY 2012
With the snow falling, Huth's sliding challenge looked overzealous, but not dirty, as he caught Meyler whilst attempting to pull out on the slippery turf. Atkinson thought otherwise and dismissed him harshly.
Stoke appealed against the decision in a game which they lost 1-0, but bafflingly were knocked back by the FA, no doubt eager not to scapegoat Atkinson having overturned Rodwell's red card four months earlier.
MARIO BALOTELLI IS NOT RED-CARDED FOR CHALLENGE ON ALEX SONG, APRIL 2012
Only last week Atkinson made headlines. Mario Balotelli's ugly foul on Alexandre Song did not even warrant a yellow card, so the assumption was Atkinson hadn't seen the challenge.
Au contraire, he had. So Balotelli could not be retrospectively banned, as a referee admitted to seeing one of the worst studs-up tackles in recent times, effectively but unfathomably opted to take no action.
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