Manuel Pellegrini

Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini is blaming Swedish referee Jonas Eriksson for his clubs 0-2 loss at home to Barcelona in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 matchup. 

Pellegrini believes that it was the sending off of defender Martin Demichelis who took out Lionel Messi as he was about to go one on one with Joe Hart early in the second half that cost City the match.

Eriksson immediately pointed to the spot brandishing a red card for Demichelis after denying Messi a goal scoring opportunity.

The Argentinian had no trouble scoring from the resulting penalty giving Barca their first goal of the night.

Dani Alves made it 0-2 late in the game to give the Catalans an away win putting them now in a strong position to progress to the next round.

Speaking after the match Pellegrini told Sky Sports: “Of course I have a complaint, not only for the penalty and the red card.

“I think in the whole match we didn’t have a referee with impartiality to both teams.

“He decided the game. He decided the game because it was a foul by (Sergio) Busquets on Navas. The referee was three metres away and he didn’t blow the whistle and after that the foul from Demichelis is outside the box, it’s not a penalty.

“Important mistakes against a great team like Barcelona make it difficult to win.”

The Chilean manager went on to say that UEFA should never have given Eriksson the match after he turned a deaf ear to their penalty shouts during a similar match with AC Milan last year.

He added: “I think it is a mistake to nominate a referee that has had problems with Barcelona.

“Maybe he made mistakes in Milan. To have the same referee here, I repeat, is a mistake.”

City will now need to score at least two goals when they travel to Barcelona in three weeks’ time, and despite what seems like a mountain to climb Pellegrini is not throwing in the towel just yet.

He said: “We are going to try, of course we will try.

“We are going to play at Camp Nou and we did it against Bayern Munich also after losing at home (in the group stage).

“But of course the second goal came at a difficult moment because the match was ending, it was finished. We will see what we can do.”