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Page last updated at 08:16 GMT, Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Arsenal criticise referee after defeat by Barcelona

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger (left) confronts referee Massimo Busacca after the defeat at Barcelona
Wenger (left) was not happy with referee Busacca

Robin van Persie said his sending off in Arsenal's Champions League exit at Barcelona was "a joke", while boss Arsene Wenger was also left furious.

Van Persie received a second booking shortly after half-time in the last 16, second-leg defeat when he shot at goal after being ruled offside.

The striker claimed he could not hear the whistle above the crowd noise.

Wenger said: "It killed a promising, fantastic match. If it's a bad tackle, OK, but frankly it is embarrassing."

Arsenal lost the game 3-1 to go out of the competition 4-3 on aggregate.

As in the first leg at the Emirates, Barcelona dominated much of the game, with Arsenal's only effort on target an own goal from Sergio Busquets.

But the Gunners were left fuming at the decision to send off Van Persie when the score was 1-1 and Arsenal were leading 3-2 on aggregate.

As Arsenal launched a rare attack at the Nou Camp, referee Massimo Busacca blew his whistle to pull up Van Persie for being in an offside position.

The Dutchman, who had been booked for an earlier foul on Dani Alves, went on to take a shot at goal, prompting the Swiss official to produce a second yellow card.

But Van Persie explained: "I cannot understand that view from the ref.

"If there were four, five, six seconds in between [the whistle and the shot], you can make a check for offside. One second, it's a joke.

"I tried to explain there were 95,000 people jumping up - how can I hear the whistle?

"We feel betrayed a bit, when it was 1-1 it was all to play for and in my opinion this referee killed the game."

Van Persie will not be able to appeal against his sending-off.

Under Uefa's rules, a referee's decision to show a yellow card can only be challenged on the grounds on mistaken identity.

Arsenal went into the tie with a 2-1 advantage but were pegged back when Lionel Messi scored for the Catalan side.

Defender Busquets headed into his own goal shortly after half-time to put Arsenal ahead on aggregate.

But Van Persie's dismissal less than three minutes later saw Arsenal play over half an hour of the game with 10 men.

The reality is Arsenal were not able to string together three consecutive passes

Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola

The Spanish champions made the most of their extra man as a Xavi strike in the 69th minute and a Messi penalty two minutes later sealed their progress.

Wenger, who had an angry exchange of views with Busacca after the final whistle, believed his side could have won had Van Persie not been shown the red card.

"I felt Barca gave a lot in the first half. We were completely dominated, I agree with that," said Wenger.

"But in the second half we felt there was more space, I knew that, like the first game, we could come back into the game and overall I'm convinced we would have won this game.

"I think two kinds of people will be unhappy - those who love Arsenal, and those who love the game.

"I spoke to Uefa people. They are shocked as well.

"We are frustrated with his [Busacca's] decision. It is very difficult to understand his attitude."

Uefa confirmed that Busacca's performance would be evaluated by an observer, but any criticisms of how he handled the match will be kept private.

Wenger himself could face disciplinary action if his confrontation with Busacca is cited in the report from Uefa's match delegate.

Despite his frustrations with the officials, the Frenchman recognised the quality of the home side's performance.

"We lost against a very good Barca side, congratulations to them and good luck for the future," added Wenger.

"But we have many regrets because we didn't expect to lose the game like that. I feel sorry for the people who watched the game."

A backheel from Arsenal skipper Cesc Fabregas led to Barcelona's first goal and he later apologised to Arsenal fans for his role in the defeat.

"Great support from the Arsenal fans. I take full blame for the result tonight. One of the worst moments of my life. I apologise," he said on his Twitter account .

Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola said his side had dominated the London club and revealed the Arsenal boss had come to him with a request after the match.

"Wenger told me to congratulate the referee," said Guardiola.

"The reality is Arsenal were not able to string together three consecutive passes and they were not able to shoot once on goal.

"I have got sympathy because I love how Arsenal play.

"I don't know how they will analyse it in the end, they may analyse that they lost because it was 10 versus 11. It depends.

"I can understand [their view], if it is that they are out of the quarter-final because of the card for Van Persie, then if they believe that then OK. I can understand."

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see also
Guardiola sympathises with Arsenal
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Barcelona 3-1 Arsenal (agg 4-3)
08 Mar 11 |  Europe
Keeper Szczesny out for six weeks
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Tuesday's football photos
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Tuesday football as it happened
08 Mar 11 |  Football

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