Chelsea manager Emma Hayes says her team was “robbed” of a win after controversial refereeing decisions overshadowed her side’s entertaining 2-2 draw against Real Madrid in the Women’s Champions League group stage on Wednesday.
Two key decisions went against Chelsea in the second half. Firstly, a questionable penalty was awarded to Madrid in the 78th minute and then a last-minute winner was ruled out for offside.
There was no video assistant referee (VAR) available for the match in the Spanish capital, according to Reuters.
“I think we’ve been robbed of what should have been a 3-1 game,” Hayes said after the match.
Real Madrid had initially taken the lead in the 10th minute after World Cup winner OIga Carmona’s shot deflected off defender Millie Bright. Chelsea then levelled the score before the break with the impressive Niamh Charles directing her header into the corner of the net.
The reigning Women’s Super League (WSL) champion then took a deserved lead after Sam Kerr finally found a way past Misa Rodríguez – the Australian had seen two previous efforts well saved by Madrid’s goalkeeper.
With Chelsea dominating proceedings, referee Frida Klarlund awarded Real Madrid the penalty after Blues defender Jessie Fleming brought down Athenea del Castillo.
However, replays appeared to show the initial contact had occurred outside the box, with the forward then skidding into the penalty area.
Carmona made no mistake from the spot, though, scoring her second of the game to bring her team level.
“I could see from the bench it was a tackle outside of the box, so I’m absolutely shocked that those managing the game couldn’t see that. That was clear,” said Hayes, who will leave Chelsea at the end of the season to take over as head coach of the US Women’s National Team.
“Of course, maybe Jessie [Fleming] shouldn’t lunge in that area, but it’s clearly outside and, at this level, when we were in control of the game, important decisions go against you, it makes it difficult.”
Chelsea continued to push for another goal, with second-half substitute Lauren James coming closest as she hit the crossbar with a long-range effort in the 89th minute.
Then, in the fifth and final minute of injury time, the Blues finally looked to have found the winner as Charles produced a smart finish from close-range.
However, the official’s flag was raised instantly for offside, sparking confusion among coaching staff and players alike.
Charles had run from deep to latch onto a long-ball into the box and was clearly onside. Kerr, on the other hand, was in an offside position and did bump into a Madrid defender in the build-up to the goal – although arguably not impacting play.
“There was the free-kick that was awarded a penalty, and then we score a really good legitimate goal with Niamh [Charles] three or four yards onside. It’s embarrassing,” Hayes added.
“I had to check because Niamh’s onside, but the reason the goal was ruled offside was because Sam [Kerr] was interfering with the goalkeeper.
“[Kerr is] about seven yards away from the goalkeeper, she’s nowhere near her, so I cannot understand the decision whatsoever.”
CNN Sport has reached out to UEFA, European soccer’s governing body, for comment but did not receive an immediate reply.
The draw leaves Chelsea joint-second in Group D with Madrid, behind Swedish club BK Häcken which beat Paris FC 2-1 in the first round of group stage matches.
Real Madrid manager Alberto Toril said he was pleased with the performance and result against Chelsea.
“They are a great opponent. Chelsea are a very strong team with a lot of qualities,” he said, per Reuters.
“This helps us a bit to gain confidence in the upcoming matches.”
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