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Mar 8, 2013

Turkish ref defends Nani red card

Turkish referee Cuneyt Cakir, who issued the controversial red card that sent Manchester United's Nani out of the club's 2-1 Champions League defeat to Real Madrid earlier this week, said he stands by his call, according to a report.

"I intend to do my work correctly and I am on the right path," Cakir told AS.com. "I have to continue. I do my work perfectly."

The red card, early in the second half and with Manchester United leading 1-0, left manager Alex Ferguson "distraught" and enraged many Old Trafford players and fans.

"This does not provoke any feeling of sadness in me," Cakir told AS.com. "I don't even think about it. I have received more criticism at other times, but I have always gotten up and moved on. I can do it again."

Some in the UK had claimed an anti-English bias from the referee, who sent off Chelsea's John Terry against Barcelona in last season's Champions League, the same club's Gary Cahill in December's World Club Cup final, Manchester City's Mario Balotelli against Dynamo Kiev in the 2010-11 Europa League and England's Steven Gerrard against Ukraine at Euro 2012.

"In the previous games with English teams, none of the decisions were unfair," Cakir said.

"Which decision was incorrect? The red for Terry or Balotelli? I believe I was not mistaken to show the cards and send them off."

According to AS, Turkish daily Milliyet said that Cakir's performance at Old Trafford had been given a mark of 8.2 out of 10 by UEFA's official refereeing observer Pierluigi Collina.

Collina reportedly commended the decision to send off Nani, while saying Rio Ferdinand should also have been shown a red card for his vehement protests at the end.

On Thursday, a UEFA spokesperson publicly backed Cakir and stressed that he would remain on the governing body's list of Champions League officials.

Information from ESPNFC's Dermot Corrigan was used in this report.

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