Let's just get right down to this. We all know the deal, more or less: last night, Valencia was trying desperately to equalize after Real Madrid went up 2-0, then 3-1, and in the last seconds, with the score 3-2...a scrum in Madrid's area lead to a shot glancing off Gonzalo Higuaín's upper body. Where did it hit him? Well, that's the €1000000 question, isn't it?
Higuaín: "I felt the ball hit my chest" - MARCA.com
Now let's be fair to everyone here and say this: what else is he going to say? I mean, come on? If he did hit it with his hand is he going to say so?
Soldado: "We don't want to be crybabies but..last year they called an unclear handball on Albelda in Madrid" - MARCA.com
Roberto Soldado was one of the most emphatically unhappy players on Valencia after the match. And thus it comes as no shock that he was one of the first--and the loudest--players to speak out. He went on to say that Albelda's action last season in the Bernabéu was "exactly the same" as Higuaín's last night.
Are you sure it hit his chest? - Superdeporte
The Valencia-based paper Superdeporte claims that "a replay from one of La Sexta's cameras shows an obvious handball by Higuaín...so was it a handball or did it bounce off his chest?" Seems like a silly question when you literally said words before that it was an "obvious handball."
Update, 4:34 PM CET: Our awesome writer Lucas (@sepioes on Twitter) unearthed this fantastic .gif of the whole play from the best possible angle. I'll let you be the judges:
Casillas: "The ball hit the crossbar and then Higuaín's chest" - MARCA.com
Iker Casillas had one of the better views on this whole thing, and he seems pretty confident that the ball hit Higuaín's chest. But again, he's a Real Madrid player. What else is he going to say?
A new take reopens the debate - AS.com
Madrid-based AS has come up with the same "obvious handball" and simply said that the debate has been "reopened." Well that's what a Madrid paper WOULD say, right?
Superdeporte is NOT happy about the result. IN fact, they're so unhappy that they may have had a rage stroke and mis-remembered the second half of the game (oops, showing my bias!). Here's a quote: "The team that commands the Liga table put on a spectacle in Mestall, but not a footballing one. [...] It was a veritable recital of fouls, constant provocations, Mourinho putting on a "show" on the sideline, Marcelo celebrating the second goal in Soldado's face, Ramos putting his hand to his ear and staring at the stands...and this is the Liga leader?"
MARCA had a pretty different view on the game than Superdeporte, which shocks no one. The Madrid daily called the game a "tribute to football," with everything a fan could want, including "goals, tension, fighting in the center midfield, and emotion at the end." Hmm.
Alright, time for some editorializing, because I know you all love that. Last night's game was terrible for a long time: it was physical, obnoxious, and just generally unpleasant to watch. The first half was fine, as both sides traded blows; but the first part of the second was just terrible. And it was both side's fault: both sides were physical, Real Madrid because they wanted to keep Valencia in check, and Valencia because they got wrapped up in the moment and spurred on by their crowd. There were some really hard fouls on both ends--a couple from Ramos and Xabi, and quite a few from Albelda and Costa (who kicked Marcelo--dunno if anyone noticed that one).
Plus, I don't think I've ever seen anyone--aside from Dani Alves and Sergio Busquets--dive as blatantly as Jordi Alba last night. That dude was terrible. Plus, it was so effing blatant: Mesut Özil got a yellow card, and then three times within the span of five minutes Jordi took off into the air when Mesut got near him. Come on, man.
As for the "handball": it's very, very close. From one angle, it looks like he reaches out to touch it; from another angle it looks like it blasts off his chest. I'm not sure either are right: I'd bet he reached out to touch it, and it hit off his shoulder. But hey, this is an editorial, so I'm allowed to be biased. Oh, and not to be "that guy," but if that shot goes in to the right of Casillas (see the video) it's offsides on the guy lying in his way, as he's interfering with the play and in an offside position.
In the end, I'm really proud of the side for showing character and togetherness at the end of that grueling match. If anything, this should bring them closer together as they start their assault on la Liga. A por ellos!