Manchester City manager blames referee for Barcelona Champions League defeat
Manuel Pellegrini unhappy with performance of Jonas Eriksson and claims the Swede failed to control the game
February 19th, 2014
Manchester City are heading out of the Champions League after Tuesday night’s 2-0 reverse at the hands of Barcelona, with a Lionel Messi penalty and a late Dani Alves goal giving the Spanish champions a huge advantage ahead of the second leg.
It was a City performance which seemed to lack ambition, with Manuel Pellegrini opting against all-out attack against a side renowned for keeping the ball and punishing teams that leave gaps at the back.
However, Pellegrini felt that part of his team’s undoing was down to the poor decision-making of referee Jonas Eriksson, with the Chilean claiming that the arbiter failed to control the game and even went as far as to “remedy previous errors.”
Eriksson officiated a Champions League match between Barcelona and Milan two years ago which saw Pep Guardiola claim his side deserved two unawarded penalties and Pellegrini felt that the referee settled the score at the Etihad.
Pellegrini said: “The referee decided the game.
“Before the penalty it was a foul on [Jesús] Navas when he [Eriksson] was three metres from the play so he could see it. From the beginning I felt the referee was not impartial to both teams. So he decided the game. And after it was not a penalty, it was outside the box.
“The contact was outside the box, that was the contact. You cannot continue the foul, the first foul was outside the box. But the important mistake is the foul against Navas, the second mistake was the penalty. But it was from the beginning [Eriksson’s impartiality].
“Barcelona did not have chances before the goal. It was a pity because that important action decided the game. Playing 40 minutes with one player less is difficult against Barcelona but we played well with one player less and in the last minute they scored the second goal.”
Pellegrini was clearly angry as his game plan was perceived to be working before the awarding of the penalty, while Vincent Kompany issued an early rallying cry and felt that his team can still progress by winning at the Nou Camp.
“By no means we thought they were superior. When it was 11 v 11 maybe we showed a bit too much respect in the beginning,” the City captain said. “They were there for the taking.”