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Barcelona focus turns to Luis Suarez

Barcelona about an hour ago
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By ESPN Staff
Sep 17, 2008

Referee's timekeeping angers Arsenal boss

Arsene Wenger launched a strong attack on the time-keeping of Spanish referee Luis Medina Cantalejo after Arsenal snatched a late equaliser to rescue a point from their Champions League opener against Dynamo Kiev in Ukraine. Gunners skipper William Gallas bundled in from close range with just two minutes left to cancel out a controversial penalty from Ismael Bangoura after full-back Bacary Sagna was adjudged to have pushed over Ognjen Vukojevic.

However, Wenger felt there should have been more time for his men to go on and win the tie - which would have been a first European victory in the former Soviet Union.

The Arsenal manager confronted the referee following the final whistle, which he believed came too soon.

"I wanted to understand how we played only three minutes of injury-time, and then only had one minute,'' said Wenger.

"Every referee looks to have a different computer to calculate the in time and still I do not know and really understand how it works.

"It looks like through inspiration of the referee, and he could not explain it. He just said it was enough.''

Wenger continued: "When he got to 1-1, there was no game any more.

"We were on top, they looked very tired, but the game was finished because of the interruptions for injuries and stoppages.

"You could feel the game was there for the taking, but we had no more opportunity to play.''

The Arsenal manager also rejected suggestions from Ukrainian journalists the referee had allowed Gallas's effort to stand even though he was offside - and hit out at the official again for not protecting winger Theo Walcott more from some heavy tackling.

Wenger said: "We do not want to score offside goals, but this is the same referee who should have sent off the left-back three times at least during the game because he destroyed Walcott.

"And it is the same referee who gave Kiev a penalty which you did not complain about.''

Arsenal controlled the first half and should have been ahead before the break, but Emmanuel Adebayor, Robin van Persie, twice, and Cesc Fabregas all missed good chances.

Wenger reflected: "The game is a mixture of frustration and relief. The game should be over at half-time because we had clear chances in the first half, but it is a relief because with three minutes to go we were 1-0 down.

"I felt our level dropped in second half and we did not create as many chances as we would have liked.

"We feel we have lost two points today.''

There looked to be contact on both sides in the build up to the penalty, with the referee ruling against the Arsenal defender as the players tussled in the box.

Wenger said: "The penalty was harsh, Sagna is convinced he was pulled with two hands on his own shirt as the guy went down.

"But we cannot complain about that. We have to deal with that. The referee gave a penalty, so that is that.''

Gallas had made a mistake which gave possession to Kiev ahead of their goal, but atoned with another European goal - his third of the season having struck in each leg of the qualifier.

"I belief he is highly committed and always responds well,'' said Wenger of his captain.

"It was not an easy game for us. Once you are 1-0 down and the other team is defending so well, you need special character and he is one of the players who have shown that.''

Wenger felt tonight's late show will continue his side's progress, having come into the match on the back of three convincing wins.

He said: "We are in a good momentum and it was important to at least come back from Ukraine with a point, even if from the game it should have been three.

"Overall, this result does not interrupt our momentum.

"How important this point will be, we will see at the end of the competition.''

Dynamo coach Yuri Semin was happy enough with that point - which is already better than the whole of the previous European campaign for the Ukrainians, who lost all six ties last season.

He said: "If I was told before the game that we would have a draw, I would have been very pleased.

"This is a good start in the Champions League and the team did well, so overall I am satisfied.''

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