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By ESPN Staff

Crestfallen Lehmann says red card was tragic

PARIS, May 17 (Reuters) - Arsenal goalkeeper Jens Lehmann became the first player ever to be sent off in a European Cup final when he was dismissed in the 18th minute of Arsenal's 2-1 defeat by Barcelona in the Stade de France on Wednesday.

The German caught Barca striker Samuel Eto'o with his feet just outside the area as he raced towards goal. The Cameroon international stumbled but managed to stay upright and fed the ball to Ludovic Giuly who drilled the ball into the net.

But Norwegian referee Terje Hauge, who sent off Chelsea full back Asier del Horno when the Londoners played Barcelona earlier in the competition, pulled play back, sent off Lehmann and awarded a free kick to the Spanish champions outside the area.

Arsenal still managed to take the lead through Sol Campbell's header eight minutes from time, but Lehmann's replacement Manuel Almunia was beaten twice late on by Eto'o and Juliano Belletti as Barca hit back to lift the trophy for the second time in their history.

'Obviously, it was a bit tragic that I was out after 20 minutes,' Lehmann told German television. 'I got there a tick too late. It wasn't good.

'But the team did an excellent job. With 10 men we had a chance. Unfortunately, their first goal was an offside goal. It was bitter for us, after fighting so hard.'

Lehmann, who will be in goal for Germany during the World Cup, admitted it was inevitable that the focus will be on his red card, which also meant midfielder Robert Pires had to be sacrificed for Almunia.

'What do you want to hear from me? Should I damn myself and say it was all my fault? I think I made a slight miscalculation. But naturally, as goalkeeper I'm always hit, always hit,' said the 36-year-old.

'At the moment you're just angry. Maybe tomorrow will look different. You don't expect to get a red card in the final after 20 minutes. It's annoying. But life goes on.'