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Zabaleta hits out at 'shocking' referee

ESPN staff
March 13, 2014 « Spurs summit for angry players | Chartbeat test »
Did City play too defensive?

Pablo Zabaleta has accused French referee Stephane Lannoy of making "shocking decisions" in Manchester City's 2-1 defeat to Barcelona, including refusing to give Manuel Pellegrini's team a penalty.

The right-back, who had already been booked, was shown a second yellow card and sent off in the Nou Camp for complaining about the decision to reject Edin Dzeko's appeal after he went down under Gerard Pique's challenge.

"It was very clear," Zabaleta said. "I think Pique was behind me and made the tackle on Dzeko and the referee was only two metres away from that. I don't know why I was sent off. I went to him to talk to him in a good way.

"I was a little bit angry to him because he didn't give a penalty but I have always been very respectful to him. I am frustrated. I think it was a shocking decision.

"Sometimes in the game you are nervous because you are trying to get the result, and sometimes shocking decisions by the ref make you a bit angry."

Lannoy and his assistants were also criticised for denying Barcelona a penalty, when Joleon Lescott seemed to foul Lionel Messi and for ruling out a Neymar goal, when replays proved Jordi Alba was not offside.

Zabaleta argued City should have received a free kick before Barcelona opened the scoring, saying: "It was also a foul against Dzeko just before Barcelona's first goal. He held the ball and turned, and Pique had hold of his shirt, and the ref gave a free-kick to Barcelona."

City went out 4-1 on aggregate after a 2-0 first-leg defeat at the Etihad Stadium, when Pellegrini was also unhappy with the officiating. The Chilean's comments about referee Jonas Eriksson, who awarded Barcelona a penalty and sent Martin Demichelis off, brought him a two-match touchline ban.

Pellegrini has maintained that the referee decided the first game and captain Vincent Kompany, who scored his side's goal in the Nou Camp, pointed to the fact that Barcelona only scored once, through Messi on Wednesday, before City were reduced to 10 men.

He said: "Over the course of two games, whenever there was 11 players [against 11], there wasn't much between the two teams. Messi is an incredible player and whenever he has the ball danger can happen, but outside of that we had huge chances. If we score, we're looking at a completely different game."

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