ISTANBUL: Arsene Wenger was furous after midfielder Aaron Ramsey was sent off near the end of Arsenal’s goalless draw with Besiktas in Istanbil in the first leg of their Champions League play-off tie.
Slaven Bilic’s Turks almost took the lead right from kick-off through a long-range effort by former Chelsea striker Demba Ba which struck the bar.
Arsenal then held out and could have netted a crucial away goal themselves but for some poor finishing by Olivier Giroud. Substitute Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain had a shot pushed onto a post in the closing stages.
Ramsey – who scored a stoppage-time winner against Crystal Palace on the opening day of the Premier League season – was dismissed for a second yellow card with 10 minutes left when he was ruled to have pulled back former Arsenal midfielder Oguzhan Ozyakup.
He had been booked earlier also for shirt-pulling as Arsenal pursued a 17th successive campaign in the group stage.
Wenger was upset by Serb referee Milorad Mazic who also sent Bilic to the stands just before full-time.
He said: “Neither the first nor the second yellow card was deserved for Aaron Ramsey. When you see some of the fouls that have been made tonight and we go home with Ramsey (given) a red card, it is a bit unbelievable.
“In the second half the performance of the referee was very bad. Ramsey’s second yellow card, I cannot see where that comes from, it was a huge decision.
“I felt just a lot was wrong in the second half but, overall, it was a difficult game maybe to referee as well because everybody did fight for every ball, so maybe it was not easy for the referee as well.”
Wenger reported to UEFA that an object been thrown at him as he left the pitch at full-time.
Overall he was satisfied with the result despite the loss of captain Mikel Arteta with an ankle injury.
“It was a difficult match, played at a high pace. Besiktas played with 100 per cent pace in the game and did fight for every single ball, and it was quick. We needed a great level of concentration.
“We are maybe still a bit short physically in some situations, but overall it was a game played for 90 minutes at great pace.”
In other Champions League action Athletic Bilbao earned a 1-1 draw away to Napoli in Italy.
Iker Muniain scored four minutes before half-time with Napoli hitting back through former Real Madrid striker Gonzalo Higuain on 68 minutes.
There were five goals in the first half of action in the Danish capital as Bayer Leverkusen claimed a 3-2 win at FC Kobenhavn. Stefan Kiessling (five) and Zanka (nine) exchanged goals before Daniel Amartey nudged FCK ahead in the 13th minute.
Bayer equalised through Karim Bellarabi on 31 minutes and, three minutes before the break, Son Heung-min grabbed what proved to be the winner for the Bundesliga giants.
Red Bull Salzburg will head to Sweden next week with their Champions League destiny in their own hands after Franz Schiemer and Jonathan Soriano scored in a 2-1 win over Malmo.
The Austrians, who conceded a 90th-minute away goal thanks to Emil Forsberg, were a surprise package in the Europa League last season and look set to cause more shock waves this year.
Steaua Bucharest have the advantage in their pairing with Ludogorets of Bulgaria after Alexsandru Chipciu fired the Romanians to a 1-0 victory at the Stadionul Steaua.