Barcelona boss Xavi Hernandez fumed with the officials after his side were denied a late penalty in their Champions League defeat against Inter Milan.
The visiting side thought they were going to be awarded a late penalty after Inter defender Denzel Dumfries appeared to handle the ball when Ansu Fati appeared to be set to head an effort towards goal. There was a lengthy stoppage as VAR analysed the incident, but no penalty was awarded.
Hakan Calhanoglu’s strike on the stroke of half time proved to be decisive for Inter, who moved three points above Barca in the group standings and – coupled with Bayern Munich’s five-goal victory over Viktoria Plzen – ensured Xavi’s side lost ground to the top two in the group and they face the possibility of a second group stage elimination in consecutive seasons.
Barcelona’s players left the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza on Tuesday night with a grim look on their faces.
Both the footballers and the coaching staff were furious with the refereeing of the Slovenian Slavko Vincic.
They did not understand the decisions made by the referee and interpreted that they had a direct impact on the result, a 1-0 defeat to Inter.
It was difficult for Barcelona players and coach to keep their composure in their post-match interviews. They knew that any statement out of tune could cost them dearly, but they made their position clear.
The referee made two right decisions before the break, with the two Inter plays ruled out for offside in the first half. One ended in a disallowed goal and the other in a non-confirmed penalty.
Up to that point, it had been a particularly good night for the referee. However, everything got out of hand in the second half.
The first decision: Pedri’s disallowed goal
First, he disallowed a Pedri goal for a handball by Ansu Fati in the build-up.
In theory, a handball has to be given, but Eric Garcia explained after the game that this is not what they had been told by the referees.
“The goal that was disallowed [and] I don’t know exactly [why],” Garcia said after the game.
“The referees explained to us that if the goalscorer handles the ball, then it is not valid. But if it is another teammate [who handles is, then] it is [valid]”.
The second decision: Dumfries’ handball
More controversy followed as the match was approaching stoppage time and Vincic didn’t see that second-half substitute Denzel Dumfries handled the ball inside Inter’s box.
The referee may have not seen the handball, but VAR didn’t intervene to ask him to review the play on the pitchside monitor.
Xavi’s response to the Inter vs Barcelona refereeing
For some time now, Xavi has been proposing the idea that referees should appear before the media in post-match press conferences.
“I’m pissed off because it’s an injustice we’ve had to live with,” said the Barcelona coach after the Inter defeat.
“I think the referees should speak and explain themselves because we don’t understand anything.”
Barcelona academy product Sergi Roberto also expressed his unease about the referee decisions in the game against the Serie A side.
Xavi on Barcelona’s loss to Inter Milan :
Barcelona boss Xavi Hernandez stated before the game that they will fight with Inter Milan to finish second in the group to Bayern Munich.
The result puts Barcelona in danger of dropping to the Europa League just as they did last season.
Barcelona have filed a petition against the officiating crew responsible for several decisions that influenced the result.
Pedri had the ball in the back of the net but was ruled out by the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) showing Ansu Fati handled the ball in the build-up.
A cross by Dembele connected with the hand of Inter Milan defender Denzel Dumfries and Barcelona fans believe that they should have been awarded a penalty.
WHAT HAPPENED? Barcelona were denied a penalty in the dying embers of their 1-0 Champions League loss against Inter Milan at San Siro, despite replays showing the ball striking the hand of Denzel Dumfries.
Xavi’s side also saw a goal ruled out after a near-identical incident where the ball flicked off the hand of Ansu Fati before Pedri scored what he believed to be the equaliser.
WHY WASN’T IT GIVEN? The referee, Slavko Vincic, did not immediately give handball, and VAR deemed his decision to not be a ‘clear and obvious error’. Dumfries was not looking at the ball, meaning it was not intentional, and this may have swayed VAR’s decision to not award a penalty.
THE REACTION: Barcelona fans believe there could be a conspiracy against them, with the same VAR team being on hand on Tuesday night as there was during their loss at Bayern Munich on matchday two.
That night, the Blaugrana were denied a penalty as well, and many fans are not happy with the standard of officiating in the Champions League so far this season.