Arsenal striker Robin van Persie has branded referee Massimo Busacca as a joke after receiving a controversial red card his side's 3-1 defeat to Barcelona at the Nou Camp.
Van Persie received the marching orders after he was shown a second yellow, 10 minutes into the second half for kicking the ball away. The striker protested saying he had not heard the whistle, animatedly pointing at the crowd, indicating that he had missed the whistle in the 95,000 strong crowd a the Nou Camp.
At the time of his dismissal, Arsenal held a slender advantage in the tie with a 1-1 draw, which, had the scores remained the same, meant qualification on away goal rule for Arsenal.
However, after his departure, Barca heaped pressure with the extra man with Xavi and Lionel Messi scoring to give Barcelona the win.
When asked about the decision, Van Persie told Sky Sports, I believe so. I think it had a big influence. It was a total joke, the sending off, because how can I hear his whistle with 95,000 people jumping up?
When he was told that there was just one second between the kick and the whistle, he added, Makes it even worse. This way - one second from his whistle to my shot - makes it even worse. If there were four, five, six seconds in between, you can make a check [for offside]. One second, it's a joke.
It's just a joke. He's been bad all evening. He's been a joke all evening, whistling against us. I don't know why he's here tonight. I think it's a joke. We feel betrayed a bit. When it was 1-1, it was all to play for, and in my opinion the ref killed the game.