Barcelona midfielder Xavi Hernandez is adamant that the referee’s sending off of Real Madrid’s Pepe was the right decision.
Portugal defender Pepe was given his marching orders for a lunge on Brazilian wingback Dani Alves on 61 minutes in Barca’s 2-0 defeat of Madrid in the Champions League semi-final first leg on Wednesday, which also saw Madrid boss Jose Mourinho sent to the stands for his continual protesting over the decision.
But despite the post-match attention centring on the officiating – with Mourinho stating he believed Barca continually received favourable decisions – Xavi insisted the refereeing should not overshadow his side’s performance.
“I don’t want to talk about (Jose) Mourinho. I only want to discuss Barcelona. We put in a good performance and it’s a fair result. This is a victory for football,” he told Spanish sports daily Marca.
“I just want to talk about football. There will always be decision from referees that will be talked about. Sometimes they go against you and sometimes they go in your favour. It was clear to see for everybody that Pepe’s dismissal was a correct decision.”
The 2-0 result, courtesy of two goals from Argentine dynamo Lionel Messi, has put the Catalans in a commanding position ahead of the return leg at Camp Nou on Tuesday.
“We got the result that we deserved. We were again superior. We’re a team that wants to play attacking football and have fun on the pitch. They (Real Madrid) are just hoping that we’ll make mistakes. That worked in the Copa del Rey final, but not this time,” Xavi said.
Team-mate Gerard Pique blamed Real Madrid for naivety and negative tactics on their own turf, which he believed led to their demise.
”We fought well and had a good result. Now it is up to the second game,” he said. “It’s always the same. They didn’t want to play at football, (even) at their own stadium. They play at the limit of violence. If you play with fire, you can end up burning.”
Javier Mascherano, however, warned his Barca team-mates of complacency, insisting their rivals were capable of mounting a comeback in the reverse tie.
“I’m very content with the outcome from this match, but this doesn’t change anything about the second leg,” he said.
“There is another game to be played and Real Madrid are a very strong team that will do their utmost to turn things around.”
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