Istanbul – Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger acknowledged that his side's goalless draw with Beskitas in a Champions League play-off in Istanbul Tuesday was a fair result for a “difficult” game but blasted the performance of the referee.
The Serbian referee Milorad Mazic sent off Arsenal midfielder Aaron Ramsey for a second bookable offence, neither of which an angry Wenger said were justified.
“I think not the first not the second yellow card was deserved for Ramsey,” Wenger told reporters.
“When you see some of the fouls committed and you go home with a red card for Ramsey it is somewhat unbelievable.
“In the second half the performance of the referee was very bad,” he said, noting that infringements by Besiktas went unpunished.
Wenger – whose 100percent win record in Champions League play-off matches came to an end after 12 wins in 12 – described the game as a “difficult match played at a high pace” and praised the opposition for playing at “100 percent”.
Asked how he felt with the result, Wenger said he thought it a fair outcome from a tough game.
“We always want to win, but look, Besiktas could have won the game and maybe we could have won.
“Maybe a draw is a fair result as both teams had chances to win the game.”
On the return leg in London, he said: “We know that Besiktas is a good team, we know the game will be tight, but task is clear.”
Wenger expressed admiration for Slaven Bilic's side – the Croatian was himself sent to the stands in the dying minutes for protesting at a failure to penalise an ASrsenal player for a foul on one of his team.
“We faced a very good Besiktas team tonight. Their committment was fantastic.” – Sapa-AFP