Howard Webb has revealed the worst decision he ever made as a referee, and that was a penalty he awarded Manchester United.

Webb knew immediately he’d got a crucial penalty decision wrong when Manchester United were losing to Tottenham in a massive game at Old Trafford in 2009.

Cristiano Ronaldo’s goal from the spot sparked a stunning comeback from United, who claimed a 5-2 victory from two goals down and knocked Rafael Benitez’s Liverpool off the top of the Premier League table.

Liverpool would finish just four points behind United, with Alex Ferguson claiming his eleventh title with the Red Devils.


The victory was a pivotal moment in the 2008/09 race for the title and Webb admitted it was the wrong call to award a penalty for United when Michael Carrick went down in the area.

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‘I could see Carrick got there first and then the goalkeeper (Heurelho Gomes) clattered into him,’ he told The Athletic.

‘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.’


‘I was left with the decision I had taken with no independent evidence that I’d got it wrong other than a gut feeling,’ Webb added.

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‘I was just hoping that Ronaldo would miss the penalty. But he didn’t.’

‘You just know,’ he continued.

‘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.’

Despite his regret over the decision, Webb retired in 2014 as one of the most respected referees to ever officiate the modern game.

Webb has been the technical direction of the Professional Game Match Officials Board since hanging up his whistle.

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