Football: Robson rues Elleray's decisions

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AN ANGRY PSV Eindhoven coach, Bobby Robson, said his side had again been the victims of a bizarre refereeing decision as they lost 3- 1 in the Champions' League on Wednesday.

The former England manager was in a rueful mood after controversial rulings contributed both to the defeat at Kaiserslautern and PSV's home reverse to the German side two weeks earlier.

Robson saw his team take the lead in the 18th minute through Ruud van Nistelrooij in Wednesday's Group F match. However, PSV were fighting the inevitable from the 26th minute when the English referee, David Elleray, sent off their goalkeeper, Patrick Lodewijks, after a collision with Kaiserslautern's Uwe Rosler, the former Manchester City striker.

The decision left many observers baffled. Yesterday the German media could not agree on whether Lodewijks had been dismissed for the challenge on Rosler or because the referee believed he had handled the ball outside the penalty box. "I think we've again been the victims of a bizarre decision," Robson said.

Two weeks before in Eindhoven a French referee, Alain Sars, ruled that a late header by Jurgen Rische had crossed the goal line despite fervent protests from the home team, giving Kaiserslautern a 2-1 victory.

PSV's two defeats to the German champions mean they have only three points and are out of contention for a quarter-final place. Kaiserslautern look certain to qualify, topping the group with 10 points, five clear of HJK Helsinki.

Otto Rehhagel's side took a while on Wednesday to break down 10-man PSV's resistance, but finally triumphed with second-half goals from Rische, Marco Reich and Marian Hristov. "I'm very angry but it's now history," Robson said. Asked if he had spoken to Elleray, the veteran coach replied: "It was too dangerous for me to go near the referee."

The former Ipswich and Barcelona manager felt he had been dealt a double blow through the red card. He had to take off his captain and striker, Luc Nilis, to make way for the substitute goalkeeper, Wilburt Need. "You lose two players," Robson fumed.

The intimidating atmosphere at Kaiserslautern's Betzenberg stadium has provoked accusations in the past that referees can be more inclined to favour the home side. However, Robson went out of his way to stress he was not blaming anyone at Kaiserslautern for the events which had spoiled his mood. "I wish Otto good luck for the next stage," he said.

n Italian police have a suspect in the explosion that injured an assistant referee and forced the abandonment at half-time of a Uefa Cup match between Fiorentina and Grasshopper Zurich in Salerno on Tuesday. Police have questioned the man, who is reportedly from Salerno, and released him. Closed-circuit television tapes from the stadium allegedly show the suspect and others preparing a firecracker. The injured official, the Belgian Philippe Flament, was taken to a hospital with a knee injury.