Wenger blasts referee over penalty decision

April 3rd, 2008 - 12:26 pm ICT by admin  

London, April 3 (DPA) Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger was heavily critical of Dutch referee Pieter Vink after his side drew with Liverpool in the first leg of their Champions League quarterfinal. The incident that drew Wenger’s ire occurred 20 minutes into the second half, as Dirk Kuyt seemed to tug the sleeve of Alexander Hleb as he burst into the box Wednesday.

“There was a blatant penalty not given just under the eyes of the referee,” Wenger said.

“If referee is in a bad position, yes, but the referee was five yards from Kuyt and didn’t give the penalty.”

Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez was less convinced.

“I was watching the replay, and it was not clear. In England, is not a penalty. It’s not very clear,” he said.

Wenger expressed disbelief that Nicklas Bendtner had somehow managed to get in the way of a goal bound effort from Cesc Fabregas, as Arsenal came away with only a draw after laying second-half siege to the Liverpool goal.

Emmanuel Adebayor had headed Arsenal into a 23rd-minute lead, but that was cancelled out within three minutes by Kuyt, as he bundled in a Steven Gerrard cross.

“Credit to Steven Gerrard - he showed a touch of class on that goal,” Wenger said.

“Gerrard played well, but they played just on the counterattack, and he is the ideal player to find when you are on the counterattack.”

Generally, Wenger was delighted with his side’s performance.

“We are not well paid for what we produced. To finish a game like that 1-1 is disappointing. We produced the performance we wanted and had chances to win the game,” he said.

“Liverpool created very little. I thought the second half we played in one half. I cannot fault the players. Liverpool defended well. Kuyt played as a second right back in the second half, and on the other side they defended very deep. It was difficult to find space.”

He added: “You could see the teams had given a lot. In a game like that you do not create 20 chances - you create four or five, and we had four or five.”

Robin van Persie was withdrawn at halftime as a precautionary measure after suffering a strained thigh.

Benitez was far from triumphant but was clearly pleased with his side’s resolve.

“Arsenal are a good team, and they were attacking and attacking,” he said.

“Playing at Anfield in the second leg is an advantage.”

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