LONDON - Coach Guus Hiddink described the refereeing as the worst he had ever seen after Chelsea were knocked out in the Champions League semi-final against Barcelona on Wednesday.
Hiddink claimed Norwegian referee Tom Henning Ovrebo denied Chelsea a number of strong penalty appeals during the 1-1 draw in the second leg which saw Barcelona advance to the May 27 final against Manchester United in Rome on the away goals rule.
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Choosing his words with great care, Hiddink told a news conference: "We should have decided the game before getting into a worldwide discussion of the penalties.
"What I am sure about is that you have to get top notch referees who have experience of the big leagues, in Italy, Spain, England and Germany so they can cope.
"Of course players can make mistakes, coaches can mistakes and referees can make mistakes, but that is all in the game. But if you have seen three or four situations waved away then that is the worst refereeing I have seen.
"At this moment I have to think a lot if I have ever seen worse," the Dutchman said.
"We had two or three open chances and we should have taken them and then we wouldn't have this fuss about not just one penalty -- but three or four.
"Sometimes you have to give the referee the benefit of the doubt, but if you have three or four situations in a sequence, like the (Florent) Malouda situation in the first half, and when you see him wave away two handball situations, then I agree with the statement that if there was any justice in football we would be in the final now."
Asked about the reaction of Didier Drogba who was booked after the final whistle for haranguing the referee, Hiddink said: "I can fully understand his reaction.
"He was full of emotion and full of adrenalin but he was in control. If he went beyond that and started hitting he should go, but I fully understand his behaviour after the game and I will protect him."
The referee has been officiating in Champions League matches since 2001 and been in charge of a number of internationals, but some of his decisions on Wednesday were baffling.
Hiddink pointed to two questionable handball decisions, a shirt-tug on Drogba and, most blatant of all, when Malouda was pulled down by Daniel Alves inside the penalty area in the first half with the referee giving Chelsea a free kick outside.
"That was definitely inside and the referee had a perfect view of it, I have seen it on the tape already," Hiddink said, "I think we were robbed of that one." CHELSEA FANS! Check FourFourTwo.com’s ever-expanding interviews archive for more stuff to read: Web Exclusives Kerry Dixon, Guus Hiddink One on One Gianfranco Zola, Nicolas Anelka Boy's A Bit Special Michael Mancienne, Scott Sinclair Perfect XI Ruud Gullit, Marcel Desailly Celebrity fans Vidal Sassoon And Another Thing Being a Big Four fan
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