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Pellegrini vents fury at Swedish ref

A furious Manuel Pellegrini accused referee Jonas Eriksson of being biased and deciding the game as 10-man Manchester City lost 2-0 to Barcelona.

Lionel Messi stroked home the resulting penalty to send Barcelona into the lead.
Lionel Messi stroked home the resulting penalty to send Barcelona into the lead.

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And the City manager claimed the official should never have been appointed for the game -- because he is from Sweden.

Pellegrini was angry that Eriksson sent off City’s Martin Demichelis and awarded a penalty, which Lionel Messi converted to open the scoring.

“The referee did not have any control of the game," Pellegrini said. "He decided for Barcelona from the beginning to the end. I think it was not a good idea to put a referee from Sweden in such an important match and a referee who made a mistake against Barcelona in the group stages.”

For suggesting the referee set out to favor Barcelona, Pellegrini is likely to be contacted by UEFA's disciplinary department, and faces a fine or touchline-ban.

In 2011, UEFA banned Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho for five matches, reduced on appeal to three, for a similar rant when he was at Real Madrid.

The Chilean believed Eriksson should have awarded City a free kick for a challenge on Jesus Navas and then felt Demichelis’ challenge on Messi was outside the penalty area.

And Pellegrini complained: “From the beginning I felt the referee was not impartial to both teams. The referee decided the game. Before the penalty, it was a foul on Navas when he was three metres from the play so he could see it. And it was not a penalty, it was outside the box."

Actually the match Pellegrini was referring to was in March 2012 when Eriksson denied Barcelona two potential penalties in a 0-0 draw against AC Milan. But the 60-year-old felt that officiating in the Swedish league does not give Eriksson the gravitas to officiate a Champions League last-16 tie.

He added: “A big game with two important teams, that kind of game needs a referee with more experience. This referee whistled the Barcelona-Milan game in the group and he made an important error against Barcelona. Today he remedied it.”

He elaborated on his belief that it should not have been a spot kick when Demichelis brought Messi down: “The contact was outside the box. You cannot continue the foul: the first foul was outside the box. Barcelona did not have chances before the goal. It was a pity because that important action decided the game.”

Daniel Alves scored Barcelona’s second goal in the 90th minute and Pellegrini added: “Playing 40 minutes with one player less is difficult against Barcelona but we played well with one player less and in the last minute they scored the second goal.”

Information from Press Association and The Associated Press was used in this report.

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