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Guus expects UEFA leniency after 'injustice'

CHELSEA manager Guus Hiddink asked UEFA yesterday to consider the "injustice" of his team's elimination from the Champions League when it decides whether to punish his players for their behavior toward the referee after the contentious match.

Didier Drogba and Michael Ballack could be sanctioned for verbally attacking referee Tom Henning Ovrebo after the Norwegian waved off penalty appeals before Barcelona scored a stoppage-time equalizer to secure a 1-1 draw.

The second-leg result sent the Spanish side to the Champions League final against Manchester United on away goals.

UEFA has received both the referee's and delegate's report from the game and will review the Chelsea players' actions both during and after the final whistle at Stamford Bridge. European football's governing body said yesterday it will decide on possible sanctions "in the course of next week."

Drogba had to issue an apology after confronting the referee and swearing into a television camera after the final whistle. He received a yellow card and could be punished further by UEFA.

"I think you have to take into consideration the emotion of the injustice that was felt," Hiddink said. "If they take measures it is up to them, but when people apologize for their behavior it is the first step made toward the normal things of life.

"I don't regret so easily something, but at that moment I said I could feel the reaction of the players when there is injustice. When you don't lose in a normal way we are sad."

Hiddink defended Drogba on Wednesday, and still sympathizes with the Ivory Coast striker's furious, finger-jabbbing confrontation of the referee. "He should not have reacted as he did, but I can understand some of the actions," Hiddink said. "When you felt injustice ... there is a very strong emotion to oppose."

Hiddink, who will leave Chelsea after a fourth-month temporary stint in charge at the end of May, said he believes Drogba has a future at Stamford Bridge. The 62-year-old Dutchman said he did not discuss Drogba in a meeting with owner Roman Abramovich on Thursday.

"Of course he was disappointed," Hiddink said. "He said Chelsea did a very good performance and I agreed. We also have to be proud of the way Chelsea played at home against the best team in the world."

Hiddink rejected suggestions that Ovrebo was acting against his team to prevent a repeat of last season's all-English final.

"I don't think he had a preset mind to make big errors with big consequences for Chelsea," Hiddink said. "That's not his intention, I suppose. I'm sure."

Hiddink said his team is "rather deeply" hurt, but said it must not be a distraction as Chelsea looks to finish second in the Premier League and win the FA Cup final against Everton on May 30.


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