Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola has launched a staunch defence of his side, with criticism mounting in from some quarters after the Blaugrana were awarded two penalties during their 3-1 win over AC Milan in their Champions League quarter-final second-leg clash at Camp Nou.
Referee Bjorn Kuipers’ decision to give the Catalans a pair of spot-kicks in the match has already attracted its fair share of controversy, with Milan forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic claiming a Uefa conspiracy to put Barcelona in the final.
However, a defiant Guardiola has maintained that both calls were fully warranted.
"We didn't complain on penalties on the first leg. The replays show that it was a penalty both times. When you're holding the shirt of a player in the box, it’s a penalty. I’ve been taught this since I was a kid," declared Guardiola to reporters after the match.
The Catalan boss then went on to justify his side’s presence in their fifth straight semi-final, a record in the Champions League era.
"They [Milan] have had the odd counterattack, but they had three shots at goal and we had 21. We had a lot of goalscoring opportunities, with three defenders and with four," observed Guardiola.
"We were playing against Milan, who have seven Champions League trophies and very good players who could cause us problems. If people expected us to win 7-1, that's unrealistic. Things don't work like that."
Guardiola also refused to speculate on his side’s next opponents, with Barcelona set to face the winners of the Chelsea-Benfica quarter-final tie, the English side holding a 1-0 advantage after the first leg in Lisbon.
"We have to be very careful when we talk about our next rivals," cautioned the Blaugrana coach.
"Benfica created a lot of chances against Chelsea [in the first leg]. They still have a good chance of getting through."
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