‘Oh s**t’ – Howard Webb admits mistake in Man United game that cost Liverpool
Former referee Howard Webb has opened up on a big mistake in a pivotal moment of the 2008/09 title race.
Manchester United won the league by four points over Rafa Benitez’s Liverpool side that season.
And the retired official has now detailed a significant error in United’s home game against Spurs in late April of the campaign.
Liverpool were three points behind their bitter rivals at the time – and on the day, Tottenham raced into a 2-0 lead at Old Trafford.
But ten minutes into the second half, Webb pointed to the spot after ruling that Spurs keeper Heurelho Gomes had brought down Michael Carrick in the box.
Speaking to the Athletic, Webb said: “I could see Carrick got there first and then the goalkeeper clattered into him. It was really an easy penalty award.
“I was expecting the usual cursory appeal that you get from the players, not the huge look of absolute astonishment and amazement and incredulousness on the look of Gomes. It was obvious within seconds I’d got the decision wrong. There was something more to this.”
TV replays showed Gomes had in fact tipped the ball and did not foul Carrick.
Ronaldo tucked away the penalty and United rallied, putting Spurs to the sword and recording a resounding 5-2 victory.
Webb admitted: “I was left with the decision I had taken with no independent evidence that I’d got it wrong other than a gut feeling, and I was just hoping that Ronaldo would miss the penalty. But he didn’t.”
Describing his feelings as the match momentum changed hands, Webb added: “Just ‘Oh s**t’, really.
“You just know. You can tell as a ref. You can see the momentum shift. You can see the way the game is going.
“At 2-1, you never know. At 2-2, you can see the way this game is going.”