A furious Robin Van Persie last night branded referee Massimo Busacca “a joke” who “killed the game” after sending the Dutchman off in Arsenal’s Champions League defeat to Barcelona.
The striker was through on goal in last night’s clash but the referee blew for offside after the linesman raised his flag.
However, Van Persies didn’t hear the whistle and shot wide with Busacca handing him a yellow card for kicking the ball away – his second of the night, ensuring a disastrous early bath for the frontman.
Shocked Arsenal players complained about the ref’s decision, claiming RVP could not hear the whistle over the raw of 95,000 Barcelona fans.
To compound misery, television replays showed there was only one second between the whistle being blown and Van Persie taking the shot – making it all the more a poor refereeing decision.
Speaking after the match, the Dutchman told Sky Sports: “I think it was a total joke. How can I hear his whistle with 95,000 people jumping up? How can I hear it? Please explain that?
“I can’t understand the view from the ref. One second from his whistle to my shot is a joke. He has been bad all evening. He was against us. I don’t know why he was here tonight, it’s a joke.
“We feel betrayed, almost. We tried really hard. When it was 1-1 it was all to play for. But, in my opinion, the ref killed the game.”
With Van Persie off the field and a ten-man Arsenal under siege from one of the game’s greatest ever teams, Barcelona bagged two goals – a sublime team goal from Xavi and a penalty from Lionel Messi.
Arsenal sub Nicklas Bendtner could have won the game for the Gunners if he’d had the composure to take a decent first touch late on.
One thing Arsenal’s players and fans can’t complain about, however, was Barcelona’s sheer dominance on the night.
The Catalan giants had 17 shots while Arsenal had zero – with the away team only hitting the back of the net through a Sergio Busquets own goal.
Possession was an equally telling statistic with Barcelona keeping the ball for a staggering 68 per cent of the match.
Last night’s result leaves Arsenal’s season on a tantalising knife-edge. Two weeks ago they were left in all four competitions but that’s been halved after losing to Barcelona and defeat in the Carling Cup Final against Birmingham.
Arsenal travel to Manchester United this weekend for an FA Cup tie with the Old Trafford outfit their main rivals for the League title this season as they look to bring an end to six trophy-less years.