Zabaleta criticises Champions League referee

Manchester City defender Pablo Zabaleta has criticised the performance of referee Stephane Lannoy, who took charge of the Premier League side’s defeat to Barcelona in the Champions League, Sky Sports has reported.

Zabaleta was sent off in the second half of the 2-1 defeat at Camp Nou after being shown a second yellow card by Lannoy for protesting the referee’s decision not to award a penalty for a Gerard Pique challenge on Edin Dzeko.

Barca were also unhappy with the display by Lannoy and felt they should have had a penalty for a Joleon Lescott foul on Lionel Messi, while Neymar had a goal disallowed when Jordi Alba was wrongly flagged for offside as he delivered the cross to the Brazil forward.

“It was very clear,” Zabaleta said of Pique’s alleged foul on Dzeko. “I think Pique was behind me and made the tackle on Dzeko and the referee was only two metres away from that.

“I don’t know why I was sent off. I went to him to talk to him in a good way,” Zabaleta continued. “I was a little bit angry to him because he didn’t give a penalty but I have always been very respectful to him. I am frustrated. I think it was a shocking decision.

“Sometimes in the game you are nervous because you are trying to get the result, and sometimes shocking decisions by the ref make you a bit angry.”

Zabaleta added that he also felt City should have had a free-kick in the build-up to Messi’s opening goal. Despite his frustration with the French official, however, Zabaleta added he was proud of his team.

“I am disappointed but also very proud of the team because I think we played a fantastic game,” Zabaleta said. “We tried from the beginning until the end, should have scored first and had more chances in the game.”

Barca won 4-1 on aggregate, having claimed a 2-0 win at the Etihad Stadium in the first leg. Dani Alves scored late in both games while City also had Martin Demichelis sent off in the initial fixture.

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