PSG chief Nasser Al-Khelaifi blames poor officiating after Real Madrid win
PSG chairman and CEO Nasser Al-Khelaifi pointed the finger of blame at Italian referee Gianluca Rocchi for his decisions in the Parisians' 3-1 first leg defeat in their Champions League round-of-16 clash with Real Madrid on Wednesday night.
France international midfielder Adrien Rabiot scored the opener at Santiago Bernabeu, but Cristiano Ronaldo went on to score twice, while Marcelo added another.
Speaking with beIN Sports after the match, the Qatari supremo was critical of the officiating, recalling last year's heartbreaking loss to Barcelona at the Camp Nou.
"We can also speak about the referee," Al-Khelaifi said. "Two yellow cards, which were not, and an offside against Kylian [Mbappe] that was also incorrect.
"The small things, such as these, can also make the difference against big teams like Real. It was not solely because of this but it helped Real, of course.
"Last year, in Barcelona, the referee. Today, again, the referee. I think that UEFA have to do something.
"I have not spoken with the players. Everybody is disappointed by the result. We were really good in the second half -- the players gave everything."
Coach Unai Emery followed Al-Khelaifi's lead and blamed Rocchi for his errors in judgement despite some questionable substitutions himself.
"On the two goals scored by Real in the second half, they had their chances during the match," said Emery. "However, I do not like the way the referee handled the game. Small things, which can become big things, went for them.
"There was the penalty against us, the penalty that we should have had because of Sergio Ramos' handball, the yellow cards that we were shown... There also looked like there was a foul on [Presnel] Kimpembe in the build-up to a goal.
"I am happy with the way that we played but unhappy with the result. I believe that the referee was closer to Real than to us."
Goal-scorer Rabiot expressed his opinion that the performance and result was painfully familiar.
"I am disappointed," said the PSG youth academy graduate. "We started by producing the sort of performance that we needed to.
"We always say the same things and do the same things, but in the end, we always end up getting floored in the same manner. It is all well and good putting eight goals past Dijon, but it is in matches like this that you have to stand up and be counted.
"It is very frustrating that we let the match slip out of out hands at the end. However, we should not be too negative -- a 2-0 win at home clearly is possible."
PSG now face Strasbourg in Ligue 1 at Parc des Princes on Saturday before a doubleheader against bitter rivals Marseille in Le Championnat and the Coupe de France and Troyes away in the league before the all-important second leg with Real in Paris.
Jonathan Johnson covers PSG and the French national team for ESPN FC. Twitter: @Jon_LeGossip.