Poor Robin got a red.
The best teams in Europe with some of the best players in the world play (and fight) to lift the coveted trophy which bears “COUPE DES CLUBS CHAMPIONS EUROPÉENS”(Meaning European Cup Champions in French) in front of the thousands in the stadium and millions more watching on their television screens.
I was looking forward to the second leg of this year’s round of 16 fixture between Barcelona and Arsenal. The Londoners led 2-1 from their meeting at The Emirates and were still riding high on confidence coming to the Camp Nou.
52 Minutes into the game at the Nou Camp, and the visiting side found themselves level after Lionel Messi had given the home side the lead on the stroke of half time. Sergio Busquets’ own-goal 7 minutes into the second half had given Arsenal a 3-2 aggregate score and the all important away goal. This was when Pep Guardiola must have felt the weight of Catalunia on his shoulders. Barcelona getting knocked out before the quarter finals? That surely would have meant Pep’s job on the line.
But then there was the match-defining moment. With 56 minutes played, the Arsenal number 10 picked up his second yellow card (his first was in the 45th min, when he shoved Dani Alves) for kicking the ball away after the linesman flagged him offside on the right flank. The Dutchman, in his defense, claimed that he hadn’t heard the whistle. His protests had no effect whatsoever and his marching orders were given nonetheless.
With his sending off, Barcelona managed to pump in two more goals against a depleted 10-man Arsenal. If Van Persie hadn’t been sent off, would it have been different? I think so.
Now what I feel?
- That red card was one of the worst refereeing decisions I’ve ever seen.
- RvP’s shot was seconds after the whistle. He did not waste any time by kicking the ball.
- His shot narrowly missed hitting the target, showing clear goalscoring intent. Not of time wasting or dissent. He simply struck the ball goal-wards.
- Was RvP angry when he kicked the ball? Hardly. He realised after he kicked it that the referee had blown his whistle.
- And with 35 minutes left on the clock, no footballer in his right mind would think of wasting time.
- It was a simple adrenalin rush, which RvP failed to control. Worthy of a second yellow? Nope, not even in one of the Gunners’ biggest games this season.
Here’s a post-match interview with RVP about the incident – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qQjCCfI9vUQ&feature=player_embedded
And the incident itself – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wHWaVIYZJL0&feature=player_embedded
Writing credits: AP