Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp accused referee Howard Webb of making a “terrible mistake” that robbed his team of victory over Manchester United and made it increasingly likely that the Premier League title will remain at Old Trafford.
Redknapp could not see any way United were going to haul themselves back into the contest after Darren Bent and Luka Modric had given Spurs a deserved half-time lead.
Instead, Webb entered centre-stage, ruling Heurelho Gomes had brought down Michael Carrick inside the box, gifting United a penalty that Cristiano Ronaldo lashed home to launch an astonishing comeback and an eventual 5-2 win.
Redknapp and his players were incensed at the time. And after viewing the incident again on numerous occasions, the Spurs boss was still fuming long after the final whistle.
“The referee made a terrible mistake,” said Redknapp.
“The players can’t believe it because it changed the face of the game.
“United were not going to win unless something like that happened.”
Redknapp challenged Webb after the final whistle, although he got nothing better than the offer of an apology if the FA Cup final referee had got it wrong.
“You should have technology,” he said.
“The fourth official should be watching the TV monitor and talking to the referee.
“The guy has not done it on purpose, it is just a bad decision but it was the turning point.”
Even Alex Ferguson admitted United had benefited from a large slice of luck.
However, given that United were dumped out of the FA Cup by Everton last weekend after being denied a spot-kick when Danny Welbeck was sent flying by Phil Jagielka, the Scot is making no apologies.
“We were a bit fortunate but football is a funny game,” said Ferguson.
“You get terrible decisions. We got one last week. You have to deal with them and get on with it.”
Tottenham failed miserably to hold United once Ronaldo had scored his fateful penalty.
Wayne Rooney belted home a second, then crossed for Ronaldo to put the Red Devils in front.
Rooney bagged a second shortly afterwards before Dimitar Berbatov ended a difficult week in positive fashion, belting home from close range after Gomes had got into a tangle with Jermaine Jenas.
“It was a fantastic performance from Berbatov,” said Ferguson.
“I don’t think he gave the ball away once. He was our best player in the first-half and in the second he produced some wonderful moments.
“He does things that are world class.
“All he has done is miss a penalty kick. It was a bad one, I make no excuses about that. But how many players have done that?
“It is only a missed penalty. We have to move on.”
It did not go unnoticed that United’s fightback began with the introduction of Carlos Tevez, whose energetic display lit up a previously ponderous Red Devils outfit.
And, having somehow emerged with three points from a game which seemed set to end in certain defeat to jump back above Liverpool, Redknapp can see no way United will throw away the title now.
“If we had beaten them today it would have been game on,” said Redknapp.
“But I can’t see them slipping up now. Looking at their fixtures, I can’t see where they are going to lose.”