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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Jun 26, 2006

Blatter shows yellow card to record-breaking ref

NUREMBERG, June 26 (Reuters) - Russian referee Valentin Ivanov was given a resounding vote of no confidence by players, coaches and even FIFA president Sepp Blatter after he lost control of Portugal's 1-0 win over Netherlands on Sunday.

Ivanov produced his yellow card 16 times and his red card four times as both teams were reduced to nine men in their second round clash - a record for any World Cup.

This increased the number of red cards for the tournament to a record 23 just midway through the second round and five days before the quarter-finals begin on Friday.

Portugal, who had two players sent off, five cautioned and also lost winger Cristiano Ronaldo through an injury inflicted by a high tackle, meet England in Gelsenkirchen on Saturday.

'I consider that today the referee was not at the same level as the participants, the players. There could have been a yellow card for the referee,' Blatter told Portugal's SIC television channel.

'This was a game of emotion, with exceptional drama in the last instant, with a deserved winner,' her adde. 'It was a great show with intervention by the referee that was not consistent and (had) lack of fair play by some players.'

Ivanov, a 45-year-old music-loving teacher, attempted to establish his control from the start when he cautioned two Dutchmen in the opening seven minutes.

But instead of gaining command of the game, he sent the contest into a spiral of chaos as Portugal took a 23rd minute lead, thanks to a well-taken goal by Maniche, and defended it with every trick in the professionals' book.

In the end, Ivanov sent off Costinha and Deco of Portugal, each for two yellow cards, and Khalid Boulahrouz and Giovanni van Bronckhorst of the Netherlands, both also for two cautions.

He also handed out yellows to Portugal's Maniche, Petit, Luis Figo, Ricardo and Nuno Valente and the Netherlands' Mark van Bommel, Wesley Sneijder and Rafael van der Vaart.

'I must say it was a pity that there was no football in the second half,' said Dutch coach Marco van Basten.

'The referee made a mess of it and Portugal used all their experience, all their tricks and time-wasting. We just couldn't play. It was chaos and it should not happen this way at a World Cup.'

Portugal coach Luiz Felipe Scolari said he was happy to win and added that such rough games were a part of his South American experience.

'Sometimes it is like war,' he said. 'It is like that in the Copa America and I am used to that.'

Scolari said he was not worried avoutt losing players to suspension because he has a strong squad.

He defended captain Luis Figo, who was cautioned for butting Mark van Bommel in a scrap to grab the ball when the Dutch were refusing to hand it back.

Van Bommel said: 'They were not any smarter than us, but the referee let them get away with it.

'If Figo butts you, and he only gets a yellow card, and then minutes later he 'delivers' Boulahrouz's second yellow when, already, he should have been in the dressing room... Well, they are crucial mistakes that shouldn't be made at a World Cup.'

But Scolari said Figo only did what a committed player should do when goaded by his opponents, adding 'Jesus Christ said he would turn the other cheek but Figo is not Jesus Christ. I thought he was more correct than the Dutchmen'.

Scolari refused to accept that his side tricked their way to victory and Van Basten, when asked about his own team's physical style and their role in the chaos, said: 'If they are talking about fair play, they should look at themselves first.'

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