Manchester United forward Robin van Persie has blasted UEFA as ‘cowardly’ following their decision to stand by referee Cuneyt Cakir.
The Turkish official controversially sent off Nani in the second leg of the Champions League last-16 tie with Real Madrid, a game which Sir Alex Ferguson’s men went on to lose, having led at the time of the red card.
“That red card was heavily unjustified,” van Persie told reporters.
“It was not even a yellow card or a free-kick. Nani couldn’t do anything about it, he hardly touched (Alvaro) Arbeloa.
“The worst thing is that UEFA supports him. That’s cowardly, because I really don’t understand it.
“Why don’t they just be honest and say: ‘He hasn’t seen it?’
“I didn’t understand before the game that this man would be the referee, such an unknown referee who hasn’t been in charge of a big game for months.
“Even the guys from Madrid told me afterwards that it was not a red card.”
United were on course for a place in the quarter-finals prior to the sending off, leading 1-0 on the night and 2-1 on aggregate.
However, two goals in the space of four minutes put paid to their chances of progression, and van Persie is adamant it would have been a different story if they still had 11 men on the pitch.
“For an hour everything was looking good, the tactics seems to be right,” he said.
“We really had the feeling that we were going to score the second goal and then it would become very difficult for Real Madrid. But then it the referee pulled the red card.
“Real were not dangerous at all, I’m sure we would have kept our position. So now it’s all about the title in the Premier League.”
This is not the first time the Dutchman has been left feeling hard done by following a Champions League elimination.
Van Persie’s controversial red card against Barcelona while playing for Arsenal in 2011 saw them crash out of the competition after leading the tie at the time of his dismissal.