Manchester United forward Robin van Persie has branded Uefa “cowardly” following Uefa’s backing of referee Cuneyt Cakir’s dismissal of Nani in United’s Champions League second leg tie against Real Madrid, a decision that resulted in Madrid winning the tie. Nani was given a straight red card in the 57th minute (due to a challenge on Alvaro Arbeloa) of United’s second leg of their Champions League Round of 16 tie when United were up 1-0. Following the red card, United crumbled, and conceded two goals to lose the match 2-1 and the tie 3-2.
“That red card was heavily unjustified,” Van Persie told Dutch website Algemeen Dagblad. “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’?”
Van Persie went on to question Cakir’s appointment. “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 games for months,” He said. Even the guys from Madrid told me afterwards that it was not a red card.”
Van Persie also said that if not for the red card, United would have gone on to win the match. “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.”