In Depth

Oi, ref! Nani's red card, and five other shocking decisions

Manchester United's downfall: not the first time an English team has been undone by the ref

MANCHESTER UNITED fans are in no doubt about who to blame for their exit from the Champions League last night - Turkish referee Cuneyt Cakir, who took the harsh decision to send off Nani for a high tackle in the 56th minute. United were winning 1-0 at the time, but against ten men Madrid came back to win 2-1, leaving Alex Ferguson too "distraught" to face the media. It's not the first time a controversial refereeing decision has left English fans aghast...

Robin van Persie, Barcelona vs Arsenal, 2011: "A total joke," was how Arsene Wenger described Massimo Busacca's decision to send off Robin van Persie at Camp Nou. With the game poised at 1-1 and the score 2-2 on aggregate, RVP latched onto a through ball and unleashed a shot that flew wide of the Barcelona goal. After he was flagged offside, Busacca gave him a second yellow card for deliberately kicking the ball away. An outraged Van Persie insisted he had not heard the whistle above the din created by 95,000 spectators. Barcelona went on to win 3-1 on the night and Wenger's furious response earned him a one-match ban.

Rafael da Silva, Manchester United vs Bayern Munich, 2010: Fergie's decision not to talk to the media last night may have been informed by his infamous reaction to the red card for Rafael da Silva in this bad-tempered enounter at Old Trafford. The full-back was sent off for tugging at Franck Ribery but the United boss was in no doubt that the Bayern players hectored Nicola Rizzoli into producing a second yellow. "They got him sent off. Typical Germans," raged Fergie. United won the quarter final second leg 3-2 but went out on away goals as the tie finished 4-4.

Didier Drogba, Chelsea v Barcelona, 2009: OK, so he wasn't sent off but Didier Drogba's extraordinary meltdown at referee Tom Henning Overbo after defeat at the hands of Barcelona in the Champions League semi-final earned him a four-game ban and will live long in the memory. A stoppage-time goal from Andres Iniesta gave Barcelona the win and, despite having sent off Barcelona's Eric Abidal, Ovrebo was blamed for Chelsea's defeat after he turned down four clear-cut penalties for the Blues. Such was the reaction that the ref had to be whisked away to a safe-house for his own protection and last year admitted that he still gets death threats.

Didier Drogba, Barcelona v Chelsea, 2005: Drogba's rant in 2009 may have stemmed from feelings of injustice that lingered from this incident four years earlier when he was given his marching orders for a fairly inocuous challenge on Barcelona goalkeeper Victor Valdez. Chelsea were 1-0 up at Camp Nou at the time, but Barcelona recovered against the ten men of Chelsea to win 2-1. The outrage of the Blues fans was so vitriolic that Swedish referee Anders Frisk decided he'd had enough and quit the game. Chelsea, on the other hand, recovered to beat Barca 4-2 at Stamford Bridge and go through to the quarter finals.

David Beckham, England v Argentina, 1998: Sometimes you can't really blame the ref. Beckham became public enemy number one after getting himself sent off for a petulant kick at Diego Simeone during England's last 16 clash with Argentina. Referee Kim Milton Nielsen faced plenty of criticism for the decision, but not as much as Beckham. An effigy of the player was hanged outside a London pub and the Daily Mirror published a dartboard with his face on it. Wayne Rooney got off lightly in comparison when he was sent off in 2006.

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