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Atalanta coach Gasperini explains hooking Ilicic: Real Madrid clash ruined by ref

Atalanta coach Gian Piero Gasperini explained hooking Josip Ilicic in their Champions League defeat to Real Madrid.

Remo Freuler was sent off with a straight red card just 17 minutes in, judging Ferland Mendy's run to be a clear scoring opportunity when he had knocked it sideways and seemed to be going for the cross.

La Dea held out brilliantly for most of the match, capitulating only to a Mendy curler at the 86th minute.

Ilicic was introduced as a substitute, then hauled off again half-an-hour later.

Gasperini explained, “There were only four minutes left, my intention was to shore up the defence, but unfortunately we conceded a goal moments after the substitution."

To make matters worse, Duvan Zapata also limped off with a thigh problem after just 30 minutes.

“I spoke to him, it doesn't seem to be a strain, it's more of a twinge around the quadricep. He was afraid of doing more damage. It's unfortunate, as we had moved into a good position to deal with the situation.

“It would've been a very different game with 11 against 11. People talk about absentees, fine, but they still have immense quality in the squad," continued Gasperini.

“I wanted a more open game, we had started well with some good moves. It was meant to be a totally different spirit in the match.

“We defended well and almost brought home the 0-0, but it would've certainly been more entertaining with 11 against 11.

“The game was ruined. Last season, after absolute chaos, the handball rule was sorted out. Now we have the temptation to remove any form of contact in football and that is suicide for the sport.

“I just got banned for saying something in Serie A, if I say something now then UEFA will ban me for a month. But this is football suicide. We cannot have referees who never played the game and don't know the difference between a challenge and a foul.

“If they can't tell the difference, then they ought to go and get a different job, frankly. They should get people who played football to referee instead.

“Referees also have video replays now, they have everything needed to judge, and yet even with replays they get it wrong.

“You wait so long for this event and then it gets ruined. We might've lost anyway, I am not complaining about the result, but we at least could've played our game.

“We're satisfied, though, and we are going to Madrid to play our game."

Carlos Volcano
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Carlos Volcano

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