Cristiano always comes to Real Madrid’s rescue (Wikimedia)

(WFI) The debate will likely continue for years to come. Was it a penalty? Or was it not?

The last play of the match between Juventus and Real Madrid during their return match at the quarterfinal stage of the Champions League has now divided football lovers in many places of the planet.

On the one hand are those who consider that Juve’s Medhi Benatia pushed Lucas Vázquez hard enough to make him fall inside the penalty box thus the penalty awarded by England’s Michael Oliver against Juve, they insist, was correct. Even if the decision had to be made in the 93th minute of a high-stakes match when a lot of times plays of that nature go unpunished.

But there are those who defend that the contact between the Juventus defender and Real’s winger, although present, was not enough to justify a call that ultimately gave the Spaniards the goal they desperately needed to deny the Italians what could have been one of the most spectacular comebacks in football history.

Up to that play, Juventus had managed the unthinkable to most: to score three unanswered goals at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium against the best team in the history of the tournament. Considering that last week in the first leg of their, quarterfinal it was Real Madrid that scored three goals in Turin, both teams were headed to extra time. Until Oliver’s call.

Now there are those in Italy, in Spain and elsewhere who speak of a ‘robbery’ and those who think that the penalty was clear.

The international press is also divided. Excluding the Turin and Madrid press, both of whom have manifested a position similar to the readers they serve, the rest of the world has also taken sides. In England and Germany most support the decision by Michael Oliver. They believe that “the action between Benatia and Lucas Vázquez is indisputable” and that “there is a push from behind.”

In South America, however, they see it differently. The Argentine newspaper Olé, after conducting a poll, notes that 77 percent of the 8,800 users who voted did not think it was a penalty. The Brazilian press explains that “the fault is dubious”, so they would not have punished Benatia. In Mexico, they were more critical. “The referee saved R.Madrid from the ridicule,” said the Diario de México, adding that “the advancing of the Blancos (white team) is again more linked to the referee’s help than to Real’s actual performance on the pitch.”

Juventus did everything possible to stun the football world. That helps to explain Gianluigi Buffon’s uncontrollable anger at the referee after seeing how his team’s heroics for 93 minutes were washed away with one simple whistle. Juve’s captain harassed Oliver like he has never done with a referee and the red card followed in what is probably Buffon’s last game in the Champions League before retirement. As happened to Zinedine Zidane in his World Cup farewell in 2006, he was out of control and deranged, an image not entirely edifying. Yes, he walked off the pitch acclaimed by the Bernabéu. Ciao to a legend. But Buffon never controlled his outrage against the referee even after walking out of the showers and in front of the microphones.

“When it comes to a stage like this, if you do not have the personality (to referee), you have to stay in the stands with some potato chips and a drink.”

Homepage photo: Wikimedia

By INSIDER Javier Monne

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