Top Five: Most controversial football matches

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Sunday’s fixture between Chelsea and Manchester United was hardly ever likely to be a low key affair, but few could have predicted the carnage that unfolded on a fresh Sunday afternoon at Stamford Bridge.

When Manchester United taking a two goal lead against an unbeaten Chelsea barely makes the news, and not a soul mentions that Ashley Cole and Rio Ferdinand actually shook hands, then you know something big has to have happened.

Sending offs, diving, injured stewards, abusive referees, offside goals and a first win in west London for United in ten years; the battle of the bridge will live long in the memory.

But what other games have caused so much debate and controversy, and divided opinion that they will be talked about long after the season ends?

Chelsea v Barcelona, Champions League, 2009

Chelsea were once more in the middle of the action as they attempted to beat Barcelona and secure their place in the final of the Champions League in 2009.

The Blues exploded with rage at the injustice of it all following Andres Iniesta’s late late winner at Stamford Bridge, with several players confronting referee Tom Henning Ovrebo after they had been knocked out on away goals, claiming they had been denied at least four penalties.

Didier Drogba, who was absolutely furious with what he had seen confronted the official before screaming his displeasure down a camera lens. He was banned for six matches (two suspended), Jose Bosingwa who branded Ovrebo a ‘thief’ was given a three gam ban and the club was fined £85,000.

Manchester United v Arsenal, Premier League, 2004

Certainly a game that left a sour taste in the mouth, ‘the battle of buffet' became the embodiment of the rivalry between Manchester United and Arsenal during the 2000’s, and came a year after the controversial incident between Ruud van Nistelrooy and Martin Keown.

United ended Arsenal’s 49-game unbeaten run with victory but the game will be remembered for what happened afterwards. Patrick Vieira was harshly sent off for a foul on Van Nistelrooy, while the Dutchman was accused and later banned for three games for serious foul play against Ashley Cole.

After the game Sol Campbell was seen to snub Wayne Rooney’s attempt to shake his hand, before the battle exploded in the tunnel and the food began to fly. One famous story goes that Cesc Fabregas launched a pizza that hit Sir Alex Ferguson, something that Keown later confirmed to be true.

QPR 1-0 Chelsea, Premier League, 2011

The effects of this game are still being felt today, and in many ways contributed to the ill feeling felt in the build up to Sunday’s fiery fixture.

The story is well established by now. John Terry allegedly racially abused Anton Ferdinand during a game last year that QPR won 1-0 thanks to a penalty from Heidar Helguson while two Chelsea players were sent off.

Terry was charged with racially abusing the QPR defender and lost the England captaincy, while Three Lions boss Fabio Capello quit his job over the incident.

The Chelsea defender was found innocent in court but guilty by the FA, and banned for four games and fined over £200,000, while Ferdinand’s elder brother Rio was fined for tweeting about the court case.

New boss Roy Hodgson dropped Rio Ferdinand from his Euro 2012 squad, although denied it was anything to with what had gone on in the past between the pair.

Ashley Cole, who appeared as a witness for Terry, was accused of ‘evolving’ his evidence by the FA panel investigating the incident, prompting the full-back to call England football’s governing body a ‘bunch of twats’, which cost him £90,000.

All that prompted dissatisfaction with anti-racism group Kick It Out, with both Ferdinand brothers and a host of other players opting against wearing anti-racism t-shirts before games recently.

That enough for you? Throw in a series handshake snubs and add in that Andre Villas-Boas, then Chelsea boss, even confirmed that it was the game at Loftus Road that spelled the beginning of the end for him at Stamford Bridge and indirectly put Chelsea on course for European glory.

Tottenham 1-2 West Ham, Premier League, 2006

It was all set up for Tottenham to finally take centre stage and shunt Arsenal on to the sidelines. Instead it ended in a comical disaster that robbed Spurs of Champions League football for the first time in their history.

Going into the last game of the season in 2006 Spurs needed a result against West Ham, but were struck down by a bug, reportedly picked up by a dodgy lasagne served by the Mariott hotel, although they were later cleared of any wrong-doing.

Numerous Tottenham players were laid low by the mystery illness, West Ham secured a 2-1 win, Arsenal stole 4th place, and lasagna-gate was born.

England v Germany, World Cup Final, 1966

How can a list of controversial games be complete without the grandfather of them all – England’s 1966 World Cup win against West Germany?

Everyone has seen THAT goal by now and has their own opinion - which usually ranges from definitely over the line to nowhere near depending on where you are from.

The home side won their first and only world crown (56 years of hurt and counting) thanks to Geoff Hurst’s hat-trick, and to this day his controversial goal is still discussed. NOw more than ever, It seems a world away from the modern game.

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