Emma Hayes slams ‘worst decision in Champions League history’ as Chelsea ‘robbed’ place in final

Emma Hayes said her Chelsea team were on the wrong end of the “worst decision in Women’s Champions League history” as Barcelona advanced to the final following a controversial tie at Stamford Bridge.

Hayes believed Chelsea were “robbed” after the referee Iuliana Demetrescu sent off defender Kadeisha Buchanan for a second yellow card early in the second half, with the semi-final tie in the balance on aggregate following Chelsea’s narrow victory in Spain last week.

Barcelona were then awarded a late penalty when Aitana Bonmati was brought down by a combination of Jess Carter and Ashley Lawrence – a decision Hayes said was “equally soft” – and Fridolina Rolfo converted to send Barcelona through to the Bilbao final and a shot at a third title in four years.

Hayes admitted surprise that Romanian official Demetrescu was appointed for the semi-final tie, which was attended by a record crowd of almost 40,000 at Stamford Bridge.

VAR was in use but was not able to intervene on Buchanan’s dismissal because she had been shown a yellow card. Buchanan won the ball but caught Barcelona midfielder Patri Guijarro as she followed through, and Hayes said it changed the momentum of the semi-final.

“In the second half we were coming on top and you could see the players felt really confident. So when you get such a shocking official decision there’s nothing you can do about it. It’s hard enough for us when you’ve got 11 but with 10 it’s virtually impossible.

“Everyone knows [ we’ve been robbed], even Barcelona said the referee was helpful for them. I didn’t think it was a foul, let alone a yellow card.  I was surprised when I saw her selected, she is famous for easy cards and I think that is probably the worst decision in Champions League history.

“I’m gutted for [the players]. We were robbed. We had just hit the post. You need everything to go your way. They get two yellow cards, a deflection and penalty. Everything went their way. It didn’t go our way tonight.”

Hayes said Bonmati, whose early strike deflected in off Buchanan to equal the tie, had been “clever” in winning the penalty as she went down under minimal contact from Carter and Buchanan.

“The toughest thing to take is we didn’t lose it.,” Hayes said. “There’s nothing you can do when it’s such a terrible decision.

“Up until the second yellow, we were on top. The official has made a horrendous decision and we can’t talk about anything else. When you work so hard, over weeks, months, years, you expect the best [in the Champions League] and it feels really hard to take.”

Hayes, who had yet to win the Champions League with Chelsea, will be leaving the Blues at the end of the season. There was a record crowd of 40,000 for the manager’s final game in charge at Stamford Bridge, before she takes charge of the United States women’s team in the summer.

Barcelona coach Jonatan Giráldez pointed to a penalty for a handball on Buchanan that was overturned in last week’s first leg and said refereeing decisions are “part of the game.”

“We were the better team,” he said.

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