Mon, Oct 24, 2016 - Page 12 News List

Barca’s Iniesta faces long layoff

Reuters, BARCELONA, Spain

Barcelona’s Luis Suarez, right, shoots past Valencia goalkeeper Diego Alves, left, in their La Liga match at the Estadio Mestalla in Valencia, Spain, on Saturday.

Photo: AP

Barcelona could be without captain Andres Iniesta for the rest of the year after the midfielder sustained a knee injury in an eventful 3-2 La Liga win for the leaders at Valencia on Saturday.

The Spain international was carried off on a stretcher crying in pain following a late tackle from behind by Valencia’s Enzo Perez, who escaped a yellow card.

Barca said in a statement that Iniesta injured the lateral collateral ligaments in his right knee and would undergo further tests.

According to media reports, the 32-year-old will be out for two-and-a-half months.

Barcelona coach Luis Enrique shouted at Perez when Iniesta went down and criticized referee Alberto Undiano Mallenco later for not booking the Argentine midfielder.

“It was a clear foul ... and there was no yellow card,” Enrique said. “Tomorrow, we’ll find out the extent of the injury, but it will be a number of weeks, it’s a serious injury.”

Undiano Mallenco’s refereeing also angered Valencia.

The hosts protested against Lionel Messi’s opening goal because Luis Suarez was in an offside position and interfering with play.

Valencia also appealed for a penalty when Samuel Umtiti barged Rodrigo Moreno in the area in the first half and were furious when Sergio Busquets was not shown a second yellow card.

“Undiano [Mallenco] will be ashamed when he watches this game again,” Valencia sporting director Jesus Garcia Pitarch said. “There were three clear decisions in half an hour that went against us. Undiano [Mallenco] needs to take a look at himself. Spanish football cannot afford to have such lamentable refereeing.”

“In Italy I never spoke about referees and I’m not going to now, but the images are very clear and speak for themselves,” Valencia coach Cesare Prandelli said.

Messi’s stoppage-time penalty settled an enthralling encounter, while a bottle was thrown at Barcelona forward Neymar as the visitors celebrated the last-gasp winner.

Former Valencia striker Paco Alcacer also had an object thrown at him by a supporter while on the substitutes’ bench.

“I’m not here to judge what the supporters do, we just celebrated as you would expect when you defeat opponents who have made things so difficult for you,” Enrique said.

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