In a game full of drama and with huge implications for both the top and bottom of the English Barclays Premier League between Aston Villa and Chelsea, referee Lee Mason and his refereeing crew had their hands full. The game witnessed three goals, two of these were historic and record setting goals by Frank Lampard, one controversial no-goal cleared off the goal line, seven yellow cards and two red cards.
Given the high stakes of this game – for Chelsea Championship League spot and Aston Villa relegation from the league - it was not surprising that Mr. Mason was called to action very early in the game. Indeed, he issued his first caution in only the 4th minute of the game. The caution was issued to Nathan Baker for a hard foul on Chelsea’s Juan Mata. In fact, Baker should have considered himself very lucky because his lunging tackle completely missed the ball, violently upended Mata and came from behind. Truth to be told, Mr. Mason could have easily – and should have - sent him off for serious foul play. Under FIFA Laws of the Game, “any player who lunges at an opponent in challenging for the ball from the front, from the side or from behind using one or both legs, with excessive force and endangering the safety of an opponent is guilty of serious foul play.” Baker’s foul easily met these criteria.