Tottenham Hotspur fans were left devastated last night after the referee incorrectly awarded Chelsea a ‘ghost goal’ during the FA Cup semi-final at Wembley.
The controversial decision by ref Martin Atkinson saw Chelsea demolish Spurs 5-1 to go through to the final against Liverpool next month.
The goal, scored by Juan Mata in the 49th minute, had echoes of the 1966 World Cup when referee Gottfried Dienst and linesman Tofik Bakhramov deemed Geoff Hurst’s third goal a winner.
In extra time, with the score at 2-2 between England and West Germany, Hurst had received the ball from Alan Ball, turned and struck towards the German goal.
The ball smashed into the crossbar, hit the ground and bounced back into play where it was quickly cleared by the German defence.
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England’s players claimed the ball had gone over the line and after a consultation with Bakhramov, Dienst awarded the goal to England.
They went on to win 4-2 but the Germans have never quite forgotten – or let England forget – what they now call the ‘Wembley Tor’ or ‘Wembley Goal’.
Years later, a study by the Engineering Department at Oxford University found Hurst’s ball was actually a whopping 6cm away from being a goal.
Spurs manager Harry Redknapp accused referee Atkinson of guessing after the blunder at Wembley on Sunday.
The Tottenham boss said Atkinson had apologised to him but labelled the referee’s decision a ‘disaster’.
Redknapp said: ‘Did he guess? He must have. He can’t have been sure.
‘He’s just made a mistake, unfortunately.
‘I spoke to him. He says he feels worse than I do. I said: “I don’t think so”.
‘But he says he feels bad.
‘He knows he’s made a mistake and he says he’ll have a bad week as well.
‘There’s nothing we can do now.
‘The second goal was a disaster, nowhere near a goal. An honest mistake, but nowhere near over the line. I don’t see how he can give it.’
Spurs captain Ledley King added: ‘I find it hard to believe that he could have seen it from where he was.
‘You expect the linesman to make the decision and at 2-0 down it’s going to be a tough game against Chelsea.
‘We were remonstrating with the referee, telling him it didn’t cross the line but he makes the decision and it’s a massive decision.’
Chelsea captain John Terry and Roberto Di Matteo both admitted they did not think the ball had crossed the line and the Chelsea boss joined Redknapp in calling for goal-line technology to be introduced.
Now watch the ‘ghost’ goal during Tottenham v Chelsea in FA Cup semi-final at Wembley