Lampard defends an 'emotional man'

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The Independent Football

Didier Drogba might have apologised for his furious outburst at referee Tom Henning Ovrebo on Wednesday night but Frank Lampard led the defence of his Chelsea team-mate in the immediate aftermath of Chelsea's Champions League elimination.

Lampard said that it was Drogba's "emotional" disposition that led him to pursue the Norwegian referee off the pitch and argued that his side had been denied "at least three blatant penalties". Lampard said: "Everyone who saw it on TV and in the stadium can see that when there's that many blatant penalties and they're not given, they can understand our sense of injustice.

"I don't know what people expect. When you have 11 grown men battling to get to the final and at least three penalty decisions don't go your way you can't expect men to walk off quietly. There was nothing violent, it was just angry because we had worked so very hard to get this far.

"I tried to ask the question of the referee. One decision maybe you don't get it, two maybe, three, four or five then it's just not possible that you don't get them. I can understand Didier's reactions. He's an emotional man. That's the sort of player you want to play with and I think people can relate to that.

"All the fans in the stadium were frustrated at the end and I don't think people should make too much out of that. We were trying to get to the final and Didier wanted to get to the final and when that gets taken away you get passionate about it."

Lampard did not give much credence to the possibility of a Uefa conspiracy against English teams – "That's not for me to say. That's for others to say. But you have to wonder why" – but he did concede that Manchester United meeting Barcelona in the final on 27 May was "probably the final a lot of people wanted to see".

Having failed to set the game alight in either semi-final games, Lionel Messi claimed that the match against United would be different. "I hope in Rome we'll see the great football of Barcelona once again," Messi said. "We will see the two best teams in the world. In the end I remembered last year. But with the faith and confidence of this team it came out well like on so many other occasions.

"Chelsea are a great team with very good players, much stronger than ourselves. In the fight we were losing and they were sitting back very well and weren't letting us play our football."

Andres Iniesta, whose equaliser sent Barcelona through on the away goals rule, said that it was the lateness in the game that inspired him. "If it was the fifth minute I would have blasted it to row Z. It was one hell of a moment. It was very emotional. It was a shame they scored a goal at the start and we were trailing all game."