Man City manager Manuel Pellegrini has called into question the impartiality and experience of Swedish referee Jonas Eriksson. The comments come on the back the club’s 2-0 defeat to Barcelona last night in the first leg of the last 16 of the Champions League.
The Chilean was angered by the whistler’s decision to send off City defender Martin Demichelis and award a penalty kick, which Lionel Messi converted, for a foul that he believes took place outside the box.
By Craig Wilson – @CraigW4584
City had gone into the tie full of optimism but were undone by Messi’s 54th minute penalty and a last minute goal from Dani Alves. Even though the away side managed 68.4% share of the possession the former Real Madrid and Malaga manager chose to focus his ire on the performance of the referee.
While normally reserved, Pellegrini is quoted as saying “The referee decided the game. He was on Barcelona’s side from the beginning until the end.” Post-match the City manager also claimed that Eriksson had “rearranged” a mistake he made in Barcelona’s Champions League quarter-final against AC Milan in 2012 when he failed to award a penalty despite strong appeals.
The City manager also believes that the standard of football in Sweden hasn’t given Eriksson enough experience to deal with a game of that nature “I think there is more important football in Europe than Sweden. This is a big game with two important teams and maybe in this type of game you need a referee with more experience.”
After Messi’s opener City posted a defiant response but were eventually undone when Alves rolled the ball under Joe Hart after exchanging passes with his fellow countryman Neymar. The two goal advantage puts Barcelona in a strong position ahead of the second league on Wednesday 12 March but Man City have every reason to feel aggrieved.
Looking at the foul it’s hard not to agree with Pellegrini’s assessment that it was outside of the box. One thing is for sure, Manchester City have an uphill struggle ahead of them if the club are to reach the Quarter Finals.