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Decision to send off Portuguese defender 'was the only thing that outweighed Messi's role' but a comeback is still on the cards insists director

Real Madrid general director Jorge Valdano feels that Wolgang Stark's decision to send off Pepe cost them in the Champions League semi-final first leg against Barcelona as the Catalans cruised to a 2-0 win against ten men.

"The decision was quite rigorous and turned out to be decisive. It looked perhaps a harsh challenge, but he [Pepe] didn't have any bad intentions. He just time wrong," he was quoted as saying by AS.

"I was really surprised that he gave a red card. That moment changed the game. The referee's decision to sent Pepe off was the only thing that outweighed [Lionel] Messi's role in this game."

Despite Madrid manager Jose Mourinho suggesting Barcelona had already knocked his side out of the competition, Valdano felt that the side could still overturn the result in the second leg.

"A comeback certainly isn't impossible. We'll have 11 Madrid players on the pitch again who will show a great fighting spirit and won't give up. We will play to our own strengths in a way that characterizes this club."

Both sides meet again at Camp Nou on Tuesday May 3. 

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