Arsène Wenger was furious at Massimo Busacca, the Swiss referee, claiming that his sending-off of Robin van Persie "killed the game" and was the key reason for his side's Champions League exit.
"We would have won that game," the Arsenal manager said after Van Persie received a second yellow card for kicking the ball away after the whistle had gone. "I felt that Barcelona gave a lot in the first half of the game but in the second half we felt there was more space. I felt that, like in the first game, we would have come back into it and overall I am convinced we would have won this game.
"I think two kinds of people can be unhappy: those who love Arsenal and those who love football can be frustrated with the referee's decision because it's very difficult to understand his attitude. How can you kill a football game like that? It was a very promising game, very interesting, that's the regret. We lost against a very good Barcelona side, congratulations to them and good luck for the future, but we have many regrets because we didn't expect to lose the game like that. I feel sorry for people watching the game tonight."
Busacca showed five yellow cards to Arsenal players but none to those from Barcelona. Wenger, who waited for the referee at the final whistle to remonstrate with him, said: "It's not a surprise the referee didn't book a single Barcelona player. I just spoke to [the] Uefa people. They are shocked as well. He killed a promising, fantastic football match. What for? If it's a bad tackle it's a second bookable offence but the way he did it it's embarrassing, if you love the game. If you have played football at a certain level you cannot understand that decision. It's impossible.
"He was receptive, not necessarily of my view [when he spoke to Busacca afterwards], because he must think that he made the right decision. Even if he [Van Persie] heard the official, where have you seen a sending-off like that? Of course all the Barcelona supporters and Spanish newspapers will, but I have never seen a decision like that."
Van Persie said of the decision: "In my opinion it was a total joke, the sending‑off. How can I hear his whistle with 95,000 people jumping up. How can I hear that, for God's sake? Please explain me that."
Wojciech Szczesny, the Arsenal goalkeeper, had had to leave the field early on due to a dislocated finger and Wenger was asked if he felt his team was cursed. "Cursed? No. But I feel Barcelona is good enough to win in a normal way against anybody but you want to be given the chance to win a normal football game here. Everybody has the same regret in our dressing room. Szczesny has a dislocated finger. We have to check the tendon."
Pep Guardiola, the Barcelona head coach, expressed sympathy for Arsenal but highlighted their inability to build any fluid moves in a game. "They did not have three passes in a row," he said.
The Arsenal midfielder Cesc Fábregas tweaked a hamstring and is now a doubt for the FA Cup sixth‑round game against Manchester United on Saturday.