Robin van Persie labelled his dismissal “a total joke” as Arsenal crashed out of the Champions League to Barcelona in acrimonious circumstances.
With the teams level on the night at 1-1 and the Gunners holding a 3-2 aggregate lead, the Holland forward was shown a harsh second yellow card for lashing a shot at goal having already been given offside.
Barca went on to win 3-1 and complete a 4-3 aggregate success, and Van Persie said: “I think (the red card) had a big influence. I think it's a total joke — how can I hear this whistle with 95,000 people jumping up (and shouting)?”
Just a second elapsed between referee Massimo Busacca blowing his whistle and Van Persie striking the ball, and the latter continued: “That makes it even worse. I cannot understand that view from the ref.
“If there were four, five, six seconds in between, 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?
“He's been bad all evening, whistling against us. I don't know why he's here tonight. 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.”
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said: “We lost against a good team. In the first half we resisted pressure. I think the second would have been very interesting if we had stayed 11 against 11 — unfortunately it was not the case.
“There are regrets when you see how we went out — the way we did, it is very difficult to accept.”
On Van Persie's second booking, he said: “With the people shouting, if he takes his chance I see no reason to give a second yellow card. To do that, (the referee) must have never played football.
“I told him what I think about his decision face to face and there is not a lot more to say.”by sam wallace