Robin Van Persie and Arsene Wenger see red as Arsenal exit Europe
By: Cathal Dervan | Published Thursday, January 3, 2013, 10:15 PM | Updated Thursday, January 3, 2013, 10:15 PM
Striker Robin Van Persie and manager Arsene Wenger are in trouble with UEFA after Arsenal’s Champions League defeat in Barcelona on Wednesday night.
Wenger clashed with the referee in the tunnel after the match while Van Persie branded match official Massimo Bussaca ‘a joke’ after he was sent-off early in the second-half.
The Gunners lost 3-1 on the night and 4-3 on aggregate after Van Persie was controversially sent-off for kicking the ball away after referee Bussaca had blown for offside.
The teams were level at 1-1 on the night and Arsenal ahead on aggregate when Van Persie was dismissed just after half-time for a second bookable offence.
The Dutch striker protested that he couldn’t hear the whistle with the noise of the crowd and slammed the decision afterwards as TV proved he kicked the ball just a second after the whistle.
“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,” blasted Van Persie.
“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.”
Arsenal have now exited Europe at Barcelona’s hands for the second season in a row and Wenger knew exactly where to lay the blame after a furious tunnel row with the referee.
He fumed: “The red card killed a promising, fantastic match. If it’s a bad tackle, OK, but frankly it is embarrassing.”
“I was sure we could win before the red card. I felt Barca gave a lot in the first-half. We were completely dominated, I agree with that.
“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 decision. It is very difficult to understand his attitude.
“We lost against a very good Barca side, congratulations to them and good luck for the future.
“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.”
Barcelona boss Pep Guardiola had a slightly different take on the night’s events.
“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 analyze it in the end, they may analyze 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.”