• Champions League

I've had worse red cards, claims Mourinho

ESPN staff
March 6, 2013
Jose Mourinho says Nani should have been shown a yellow card instead of a red © Getty Images

Real Madrid boss Jose Mourinho has said he was on the receiving end of a worse injustice than Nani's red card at Old Trafford on Tuesday, citing Pepe's dismissal in the Champions League against Barcelona two seasons ago.

Mourinho sympathised with Manchester United after Nani's controversial sending off in the Champions League last-16 second leg triumph for Real at Old Trafford, as the winger was handed his marching orders for a challenge on Alvaro Arbeloa.

However, the ex-Chelsea boss said Madrid had been even harder done by in their 2011 semi-final with Barca, as Pepe's red card in the first leg against Josep Guardiola's side at the Bernabeu had come at 0-0 in the game, and was brought about by a dive by Barca's Dani Alves.

Tuesday's incident was different, as Nani's challenge on Arbeloa had been a foul, although perhaps a yellow card would have been a better decision, the Portuguese coach said.

"I think [Manchester United boss Sir Alex] Ferguson was like I was a couple of years ago about Pepe's sending off against Barcelona two years ago," Mourinho said.

"At this level of competition one player less for a long time changes many things. But there is a difference. That was a dive, this was not. It was a challenge in which he caught Arbeloa and that was the decision. But I do not want to get into that.

"I am critical of players who dive, those who push the referee when he makes a mistake. That was not the case. There is a pretty strong contact between Nani and Arbeloa and the referee decided to show the red card, maybe a yellow would have been better.

"We just concentrated on playing our own game. Ferguson has told me the same. Honesty and fair play are the important thing for us."

While claiming he had suffered from worse and more important refereeing decisions in his career, Mourinho admitted the decision to send off Nani had been the major moment in a game United had not deserved to lose.

"If anyone can cry, I am the first," he said. "Because my history is not playing against ten men, it is playing with ten men. Playing with ten in the semi-finals, not in the last-16. The best team lost, but we must also say that these things happen in football."

Cristiano Ronaldo, who capped an emotional return to Old Trafford with his side's winning goal, told reporters after the game that he had not had a chance to see his former United team-mate and current Portugal national team colleague, while saying that such refereeing decisions were part of the game.

"I have not spoken to [Nani] about the sending off," Ronaldo said. "I have not seen him. These things happen in football and are refereeing decisions."

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