MANCHESTER: Manager Manuel Pellegrini risks watching the academic second leg of Manchester City’s Champions League second round tie against Barcelona from the stands in Camp Nou.
The Chilean lapsed into a rare loss of temper and a furious attack on Swedish referee Jonas Ericsson after the 2-0 home defeat on goals from Leo Messi (penalty) and Dani Alves in the last minute.
City finished with 10 men after Martin Demichelis was sent off for conceding the penalty by tripping the Argentinian on the edge of the box.
Messi’s goal was his first on an English football ground in European competition.
City’s plan was to soak up Barcelona pressure and catch them on the break. Hence manager Manuel Pellegrini fielded a five-man midfield with only Alvaro Negredo up front. However they created only a handful of half-chances and clearly missed injured Sergio Aguero.
Barcelona not only scored twice in the second half but Gerard Pique had a further ‘goal’ disallowed – wrongly, as television replays showed – for offside.
Pellegrini accused World Cup-bound referee Ericsson of being “not impartial” and thought UEFA had made a mistake in appointing an official from Sweden. He suggested Eriksson might have been trying to make up for an error against Barcelona in a tie against AC Milan in 2012.
Inevitably he risks a suspension from the European federation.
Pellegrini said Demichelis should not have been sent off because his trip on Leo Messi for the opening-goal penalty had been just outside the box. He also objected that City should have awarded a free kick for a foul on Jesus Navas in the build-up to the incident.
He said: “From the beginning I felt the referee was not impartial to both teams so he decided the game with a foul that he didn’t whistle against and a penalty with Demichelis that was not a penalty, it was outside the box.
“He did not have any control of the game. He was on the side of Barcelona from the beginning until the end.
“I think it was not a good idea to put a referee from Sweden in charge of such an important match, especially a referee who has made an important mistake against Barcelona in a previous match . . . Today he rearranged it.”
Barcelona midfielder Cesc Fabregas was happy at “proving a point” to critics, including no doubt Jose Mourinho. Before the game the Chelsea manager had called the Catalan side “the worst Barcelona for many years.”
Coach ‘Tata’ Martino refused to accept the tie was all over. He said: “We must not forget that City lost to Bayern Munich at home and then they won away.”
In the night’s other tie Paris Saint-Germain effectively secured progress to the quarter-finals by winning 4-0 away to Bayer Leverkusen.
Blaise Matuidi, Zlatan Ibrahimovic (two – one a penalty) and new signing Yohan Cabaye scored the goals.