Thu, May 05, 2011 - Page 20 News List

Ronaldo vents fury at Barcelona’s favoritism

AFP and AP, BARCELONA, SPAIN

Real Madrid’s Portuguese forward Cristiano Ronaldo, left, vies with Barcelona’s Argentinian midfielder Javier Mascherano during the Champions League semi-final second leg match in Barcelona on Tuesday.

Photo: AFP

Real Madrid’s Portuguese star Cristiano Ronaldo repeated coach Jose Mourinho’s claims that bitter rivals Barcelona were favored by referees in Barcelona on Tuesday after a 1-1 draw in their Champions League semi--final second-leg match saw Barca progress 3-1 on aggregate.

The former Manchester United player — who was outshone by Barcelona’s two-time world player of the year Lionel Messi over the two legs — was especially incensed by the decision of Belgian referee Frank De Bleeckere to rule out a Gonzalo Higuain goal early in the second half.

De Bleeckere — one of several referees to be targeted by Mourinho’s outburst following the first leg last week — decided that Ronaldo had fouled Javier Mascherano in the lead-up to the goal, though, it was harsh as Barca defender Gerard Pique had pushed Ronaldo initially.

Had the goal stood, it would have given Real a 1-0 lead in the game and a real chance of progressing at Barca’s expense.

“It [trying to overhaul Barcelona’s first-leg lead] was Mission Impossible 4,” said the 26-year-old, who scored the only goal to secure Madrid the Copa del Rey against Barcelona late last month. “We knew what was going to happen. We were used to it after the first leg. Higuain’s goal was fine.”

“Once again, we have to live with that. [On the lead-up to the goal] Pique pushed me and I fell on top of Mascherano, who when he played in England [for West Ham and Liverpool], would not have fallen to the ground like that, but here he does it like everybody else,” Ronaldo said. “There was nothing wrong with the goal, that could have altered the course of the match, but the referee didn’t want to see it that way.”

“Those who know about football know that Barcelona are very well protected. We just have to live with these injustices,” the Portuguese said, adding: “Next year they should just give the cup directly to Barcelona.”

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