Harry Redknapp suggested he had received an apology from the referee, Martin Atkinson, over the phantom goal that played a part in Chelsea beating his Tottenham Hotspur team 5-1 in the FA Cup semi-final but it did nothing to soften his pain.
Atkinson stepped in to rule that Juan Mata's shot early in the second half had crossed the line when replays clearly showed Benoît Assou-Ekotto had scrambled the ball clear, the award giving Chelsea a 2-0 lead that left Tottenham with too much to do. Although Gareth Bale reduced the deficit, Chelsea finished powerfully and showed no mercy, rattling in late goals for a punishing scoreline to set up a final against Liverpool on 5 May.
Redknapp said that Atkinson, who will serve as a goal-line assistant at Euro 2012, must have guessed over the crucial Mata call as, from his position on the field, he had no perspective on the goal-line. Indeed, only the Spaniard among Chelsea's players even appealed for the goal to be awarded.
"He must have guessed," Redknapp said. "He can't have been sure. He's just made a mistake, unfortunately. A big mistake. I spoke to him. He says he feels worse than I do. I said: 'I don't think so.' But he says he feels bad. He knows he's made a mistake and he says he'll have a bad week as well.
"The goal was a disaster, it was nowhere near a goal. I don't see how he can give the goal: it's nowhere near over the line. It's not as if it's gone in and someone's kicked it away, it's so quick. There were bodies on the line and the ball couldn't possibly get over the line. It was key. But it was an honest mistake. He's not done it on purpose."
Redknapp, who echoed calls for the introduction of goal-line technology, did not want to say that it "was the reason we got beaten" and Chelsea won the game by showing a ruthless edge and psychological toughness that was lacking in Tottenham who, by the manager's own admission, had "become too open by the end". Their other four goals were of the highest order and they revelled in their triumph, which sets them fair for a fourth FA Cup final appearance in six years.
There was, though, a deeply unsavoury note to the occasion when a noisy minority of the Chelsea support hurled abuse during the moment of pre-match silence to mark the 23rd anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster. The chant of "Murderers" could be heard. Chelsea released a statement after the game saying that they were "extremely disappointed that a very small minority of fans embarrassed the club" and they promised to work with the authorities to identify the trouble-makers.
"We are extremely disappointed that the minority decided to speak or sing during the minute's silence and not respect it," said Roberto Di Matteo, the Chelsea interim coach. "We are disappointed by that."
The Italian has his own concerns now with injuries before Wednesday's visit of Barcelona in the Champions League semi-final. He acknowledged that his squad had picked up "some bruises and niggling injuries" that will need assessment. Gary Cahill limped away from the national stadium, though his fellow centre-half David Luiz looks the more doubtful to confront the European champions after damaging a hamstring in the build-up to Tottenham's goal. He will be scanned today and the interim first-team coach admitted he looked "doubtful".
"It's a matter of seeing how the boys are after games at the moment, but we put in a great performance today," said Di Matteo. "When I took over [from Andre Villas-Boas in the first week of March] I wasn't thinking this far ahead but the team have responded really well to the changes and that's credit to them. We'll go into the Barcelona game with confidence. Winning brings positivity."
Tottenham are fast forgetting that sensation having endured a miserable recent run in the league that has seen only one success in eight games, leaving Redknapp's side clinging to fourth place. Two years ago his side responded to an FA Cup semi-final defeat by Portsmouth by rallying to claim fourth place in the league ahead of Liverpool. "That's got to happen again now," added Redknapp. "I've got to find a team among that group who'll have the nerve, the willpower and the desire to get that fourth spot. We have to go to QPR next week for a tough game and show we can bounce back. It's a test of character now."