Slovakian referee Lobos Michel spoke to the Sunday People to defend himself over the decisions made in the match between Liverpool and Chelsea on Tuesday night. Luis Garcia’s goal has been the subject of intense debate as to whether it went over the line or not – and conflicting "evidence" has been produced for both sides of the argument. It was nearly academic anyway – if Gudjohnsen’s shot had gone in towards the end of the six minutes injury time then Liverpool would have been out. And then the questions would have been about how he found so much injury time.
The referee – referred to as a good referee by Mourinho before the game – confirmed that Chelsea would have lost their ‘keeper and had a penalty had he disallowed the goal: "I believe Chelsea would have preferred the goal to count rather than face a penalty with just ten men for the rest of the game. If my assistant referee had not signalled a goal, I would have given a penalty and sent off goalkeeper Petr Cech."
According to the People, Lobos Michel sells car tyres back in Bratislava. Face-to-face with the referee, Mourinho seems to have been a little less critical: "Jose Mourinho shook my hand after the game and did not complain about the goal. I appreciated his gesture. I was quite ready to explain everything, but no-one asked me about the situation. I always answer polite questions."
Just in case there was any suggestion he was paying Chelsea back for the death threats that saw Anders Frisk retire from football, the Slovakian said: "I am a good friend of Anders Frisk, but whatever happened between him and Chelsea is in the past. The only thing I go by is what happens on the pitch."
The noise from the crowd at Anfield meant that the referee didn’t immediately realise that the linesman had already signalled the foul from Cech. The technology in use couldn’t be overheard in the ref’s earpiece over the sound of Reds fans: "Roman beeped me to signal the foul by Cech, but I didn’t know that till later. It was the noise from the crowd that stopped me hearing it. I have refereed at places like Barcelona, Ibrox, Manchester United and Arsenal. But I’ve never in my life been involved in such an atmosphere. It was incredible."
He continued: "I did not need the signal from Roman, though. I had already seen the foul and played advantage. There was no doubt in Roman’s mind about the goal and he was in the best position to see. I chose him to be part of our team and I trust him. He is a heart surgeon and mistaken decisions are not allowed in his job. There was not even need to confer. He signalled the goal and sprinted back to the half-way line."
The Slovakian was happy to put the story straight, and even the chance to have more looks at the goal doesn’t alter his opinion: "I have seen the goal scores of times since on TV and have no reason to change my mind. But it would still be fine by me if they brought in technology to decide these things for the World Cup, European Championship and Champions League."
Michel felt that officiating in England was a breath of fresh air: "What I like about England is the players are very fair. They don’t like to dive, they don’t feign injury. Just one yellow card in a match of such intensity shows that."
Finally, on the question of the six minutes of injury time, he said: "Some people were surprised I played six minutes more at the end. I have never given so many before. But apart from the subs, I had to take time off for the two people running on the field and the time-wasting by fans keeping the ball."
What he doesn’t perhaps realise just how long those six minutes felt to Liverpool fans.