The Chelsea manager, Andre Villas-Boas, last night launched a stinging attack on the referee Howard Webb for awarding Manchester United the second of two penalties that contributed to the defending champions' three-goal comeback at Stamford Bridge.
Villas-Boas (right) said that United's second penalty – given for a challenge by Branislav Ivanovic on Danny Welbeck – was "very, very dubious" and went further in his criticism, attacking Webb, the country's leading referee, personally. "We expect, in top games, top refs and, at the moment, it hasn't been happening for us," he said. "It didn't happen at Old Trafford [in September's league match, which United won 3-1] with two goals offside, and maybe today a dubious decision that, in the end, shifted the running of the game.
"I don't know if Howard Webb had the correct angle to make the decision, but it was unlucky from him to give it. I'm not sure if he's compensating from anything in the first half [when United were denied two strong claims], but it was the wrong decision. In both games against United, top, top refs... you expect it to be perfect in terms of refereeing. On these two, they have had a direct influence on the result. Maybe the United game could have gone 3-3 at Old Trafford. But today was a dubious decision that helped give them the stimulus to go 3-3."
Both penalties were converted by Wayne Rooney before the substitute Javier Hernandez scored the third with six minutes left after Chelsea had gone into a 3-0 lead within the hour. The incident that Villas-Boas appeared to be referring to from the first half – for which he suggested Webb might be "compensating" – was a foul on Welbeck by Gary Cahill which Sir Alex Ferguson claimed should have led to the Chelsea defender's dismissal.
Ferguson said that United should have had two spot-kicks in the first half, for the Welbeck incident and when Ashley Young was brought down by Jose Bosingwa, and placed the responsibility at the door of the linesman Darren Cann. "I don't blame Howard Webb, I blame the linesman. I can't understand that," he said. "The linesman should have given two penalties. They happened right in front of him – how can he not see that? We had two penalties in the second half which were justified; we could have had four penalties."
United are now two points behind leaders Manchester City. "I see it as two points dropped, we played so well especially as we got off to a terrible start," Ferguson added.