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04 May 2011

Real Madrid players vented their anger at the referees after their Champions League semi-final defeat by Barcelona.

After a fiery first leg, Real trailed 2-0 and with the score at 0-0 in Tuesday's return tie at the Nou Camp, Gonzalo Higuain had a goal disallowed.

Real winger Cristiano Ronaldo said: "Next year they might as well give the cup directly to Barcelona."

And Real goalkeeper Iker Casillas declared after the 3-1 aggregate loss: "We feel tricked by the officials."

Real players were already incensed following the first leg at the Bernabeu last week when red cards were shown to their Portuguese midfielder Pepe and coach Jose Mourinho, who was not in attendance at the Nou Camp.

And their sense of injustice grew after Higuain's second-half strike on Tuesday was controversially ruled out for a Ronaldo foul on Javier Mascherano.

The team is sad, but we knew it was an uphill battle," Ronaldo said on the Real Madrid website.

"The name of the match is Mission Impossible IV. Once again it was the referee that didn't allow us to dictate the outcome. We knew we could beat Barca, but the referee didn't let us.

"Higuain's goal was good. Pique pushed me and I landed on Mascherano. He didn't used to fall to the ground in England, but he's picked up the bad habit of doing it here like everyone else."

Casillas added: "It has happened again - just like it always does."

And midfielder Xabi Alonso complained: "Many bad decisions were made against us and we are not happy about that.

"We think we did a good job but we feel decisions really went against us."

Lionel Messi scored twice with Real down to 10 men to put Barca in control of the tie after the first leg.

In the return, Higuain's strike was disallowed just before Pedro fired Barca in front. Although Marcelo equalised for the visitors, Barcelona comfortably held on to make it through to the Wembley final with a 3-1 aggregate victory.

After the first leg, Mourinho had claimed that "against Barcelona, you have no chance", and Alonso agreed with his manager after the second tie.

"When we scored the first goal it would have been totally different," added Alonso. "If Higuain's goal had stood it would have changed everything, our position would have been much stronger and after that it was much more difficult.

"Until the sending off of Pepe in the first leg we were doing really well and it looked like it was going to finish 0-0 and with tonight's result we would have gone through.

"Mourinho was really upset that he couldn't be supporting the team in the stadium but he gave us lots of advice before the game."

Real assistant coach Aitor Karanka said the performance of referee Frank de Bleeckere backed up Mourinho's comments.

"Mourinho was right," said Karanka. "He said that it would be impossible for us to go through. Tonight proved that it was impossible and 100 million people saw it - there is nothing more to add."

And Ronaldo continued the theme, saying: "Whoever knows anything about football knows that Barcelona get preferential treatment. We knew something would happen. We knew that if we scored a goal that everything would be done to keep us from going through.

"This isn't good for football. We should just stay home and allow Barcelona to play alone if things don't change."

"Barcelona have a lot of power off the pitch. We would have drawn 0-0 without the Alves incident and tonight's draw would have seen us through. There are no differences between the teams as was seen thoughout the four matches.

"We won the Copa del Rey by playing fairly. I don't feel that Barcelona were better than us, but rather that they have a lot of help from the referees."

Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola refused to be drawn into yet another war of words, instead focusing on his side's achievement in reaching their third Champions League final in six seasons.

Barca are likely to face Manchester United in the final at Wembley on Saturday 28 May, with United taking on Schalke in their semi-final second leg at Old Trafford on Wednesday leading 2-0 after the first game in Germany.

"I don't have time for that, it has been a tough 20 days and we have played the richest team in the world many times," said Guardiola, who has seen his team face Real four times in the last 18 days in La Liga, the Spanish Cup final and the Champions League.

"The referee may have had an influence but we were very good in the second match."


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