NYON: Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini has been handed an immediate two-match touchline ban by European federation UEFA for criticising the referee after the Champions League defeat by Barcelona.

Pellegrini said, after the 2-0 home loss, that Swedish official Jonas Eriksson was “not impartial to both teams.”

He was charged with misconduct and will be in the stands for the second leg on 12 March, plus one more match.

A further one-game ban is suspended for two years though Pellegrini can appeal.

UEFA said: “The Manchester City manager will be banned for his team’s round-of-16 second leg against Barcelona in Spain on March 12.

“This means that Pellegrini may follow the game from the stands only; he may not enter the dressing room, tunnel or technical area before or during the match; and he may not communicate directly or indirectly with his players and/or technical staff during the game.”

The first leg of the last-16 encounter at Etihad Stadium on February 18 was poised at 0-0 early in the second half when Eriksson sent off City defender Martin Demichelis for a foul on Lionel Messi when the Argentina playmaker was clean through on goal.

Replays suggested the incident was just outside the box, but a penalty was awarded and Messi duly converted. In the final minute Barca added a second through Dani Alves to take a two-goal advantage into the second leg at the Nou Camp.

In his post-match news conference, Pellegrini, 60, said: “From the beginning I felt the referee was not impartial to both teams.

“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.

“[It’s] more important football in Europe than Sweden. A big game with two important teams, that kind of game needs a referee with more experience.”

Later he apologised.