Aston Villa would have beaten Chelsea but for the myopic ref

Well, that’s what boss Martin O’Neill thinks, blaming referee Phil Dowd’s dozy running of the game for the fact that Villa surrendered a two-goal lead and eventually had to share the spoils with Chelsea in yesterday’s 4-4 Stamford Bridge thriller.

O’Neill blamed Dowd for making a pig’s ear of the first major decision, awarding an erroneous penalty to Chelsea and sending off Zat Knight in the process, and then two minutes from the end, awarding Chelsea a free kick that never was which led to the Londoners’ fourth goal. According to the Daily Mail, O’Neill said:

“Zat Knight’s sending off was a major moment. I’ve seen it a couple of times now and while I’m aware that I have the benefit of replays I will look at it again. I might appeal and we have until noon tomorrow to do so. It wasn’t a penalty.

“The Chelsea player went over and there was no contact. That’s my view – it wasn’t a penalty. The free-kick they got with three minutes to go was not a free-kick. It didn’t look like it could be possible.

“I’ve seen it again since but how did I feel at the time that he might just give it? He did. The referee was in a position to get that one right because he was on the spot.”

So could an admirable draw at Stamford Bridge been much more for plucky Aston Villa if it wasn’t for Phil Dowd’s tomfoolery?

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