x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Rivalry between AC Milan and Juventus not helped by bad call

The argument that errors evened out – Juventus were later denied a goal that television replays revealed should have stood – is based on a frail idea.

AC Milan's midfielder Mark Van Bommel, right, argues with Juventus defender Giorgio Chiellini, left, during the Serie A match.
AC Milan's midfielder Mark Van Bommel, right, argues with Juventus defender Giorgio Chiellini, left, during the Serie A match.

The last thing the AC Milan-Juventus match last weekend needed was a big refereeing controversy. What it needed even less was two bad refereeing errors.

What it got was an incident to further inflame the conspiracy-theorising, embittered and hot-tempered individuals from both camps who had already helped build up the Serie A summit meeting into something malevolent. The clash between the champions and their principal rivals had been fiercely pre-heated by accusations and counter-accusations of officially-sanctioned bias.

When Sulley Muntari then converted what should have been Milan's second goal, rage was inevitable. His effort had crossed the goal-line by close to a metre before Gigi Buffon scooped it back into play. Paolo Tagliavento, the referee, sensed it was a goal, Buffon suspected it was but somehow Roberto Romagnoli, the assistant referee, thought it was not.

The argument that errors evened out - Juventus were later denied a goal that television replays revealed should have stood, - is based on a frail idea. Football matches ebb and flow with momentum and a 2-0 lead for Milan, who had mastered the early part of the match, would have altered the way they approached the second half, late in which Alex Matri struck the equaliser for 1-1.

And, despite some contrition, notably from Antonio Conte, the Juventus head coach, for the way the furnace had been stoked ahead of the match, the theme of dubious refereeing will now fester for weeks and weeks.