Real Madrid general director Jorge Valdano has voiced his opinion that the referee's decision to dismiss defender Pepe cost the team the Champions League semi-final first leg against Barcelona as the Catalans cruised to a 2-0 win against Jose Mourinho's ten men side.
"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 timed it wrong," Valdano was quoted as saying by AS.
"I was really surprised that he [the referee] gave a red card. That moment changed the game. The referee's decision to sent Pepe off was the only thing that influenced the game more than [Lionel] Messi's role."
Valdano then looked ahead to the second leg of the semi-final tie and he refused to rule out a comeback for Madrid.
"A comeback certainly isn't impossible. We'll have 11 Madrid players on the pitch again, and we will show a great fighting spirit and won't give up. We will play to our own strengths in a way that characterises this club."
Both sides meet again at Camp Nou on Tuesday May 3.