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Barca thankful to emerge with win

Barcelona emerged from a thrilling game against Deportivo La Coruna with a 5-4 victory but they were left scratching their heads as a result of some of the referee's decisions.

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Barcelona had established a 3-0 lead inside the first 18 minutes at Riazor, but Javier Mascherano conceded a penalty for a foul on Ivan Riki soon afterwards as Deportivo launched a comeback.

Luis Pizzi and Lionel Messi then exchanged goals before the break before Pizzi made it 4-3 with a superb free-kick shortly after the break. Two minutes later, Mascherano was sent off after his elbow appeared to connect with Riki.

Messi then completed his hat-trick on 77 minutes to make it 5-3 and, although Jordi Alba's own goal two minutes later removed their comfort zone, the league leaders held on for another three points and were able to take a philosophical view of referee Paradas Romero's performance.

Messi felt Mascherano was harshly penalised on two occasions. "It wasn't a penalty or a red card," he told journalists in the mixed zone after the game. "This is football. These things happen."

Cesc Fabregas also felt that Mascherano did not deserved to be dismissed for using his elbow, saying: "Riki himself told us it wasn't voluntarily."

Andres Iniesta, speaking to Canal +, said: "The penalty and the red card were both things that happened really fast and the referee has to make a quick decision. The referee's task is always difficult."

There was some concern that Fabregas had been booked for entering the pitch without the referee's permission as he celebrated Messi's third goal from the substitutes' bench. Xavi Hernandez had come on for Fabregas in the 61st minute.

"If you can't celebrate a goal anymore, we better stop this game," Fabregas said.

Coach Tito Vilanova was diplomatic when asked about the referee after the match but he too expressed surprise that Fabregas had been cautioned.

"I haven't seen the images," he said of the official's overall performance. "You [the press] should judge him. I was just surprised that Cesc was given a yellow card for celebrating a goal."


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