Xavi refused to blame referee Antonio Mateu Lahoz after Barcelona’s 1-1 draw with Espanyol but acknowledged the feisty Catalan derby “totally got out of control.”
The Blaugrana were forced to settle for a point on their return to action following the World Cup despite a dominant display at Camp Nou, where Joselu’s penalty cancelled out a header from Marcos Alonso.
The contest descended into chaos as Lahoz, who was in charge of Argentina’s fiery World Cup quarter-final clash with the Netherlands this month, prolifically handed out cards during the bruising final exchanges.
Jordi Alba was dismissed for two bookable offences on his 300th LaLiga appearance for the Barca, while Vinicius Souza after, and Leandro Cabrera was fortunate to stay on the field having appeared to stamp on Robert Lewandowski.
But while Xavi, who was booked by Lahoz, was disappointed by the official’s performance, the head coach insisted Barca only had themselves to blame for failing to convert their superiority into three points.
21 – FC Barcelona have failed to win a game when thay have attempted 20+ shots in LaLiga 2022/23 (21) for the second time after in the last August v Rayo Vallecano (21). Jam. pic.twitter.com/Kn7tt20Xfr
— OptaJose (@OptaJose) December 31, 2022
“Mateu is a referee who controls the matches, and today escaped him,” he is quoted as saying by Marca. “Today, the match has totally got out of control.
“He is a referee who gives you the feeling that he dominates and controls the game. But today, it was not like that. I don’t blame him for anything. The tie is our fault. I have to look for my own, for what I can control.
“I can’t control the referee. I have said it many times. The referee would have to come out and speak and say what he has seen and what the players have told him. Jordi has told me that he has not said anything to him.
“We have created chances. From the 30th minute, we have slowed down, the intensity. We haven’t attacked so well, perhaps. My feeling is that we should have won well. The penalty is an unfortunate move for us.
“We are angry with ourselves. In football, there are times when you are better, and you don’t win. The team has generated a lot of danger in corners. It’s a pity and we’re upset.”
Barca are level on points with Real Madrid at the top of the table but have a better goal difference.