Manchester United striker Robin van Persie labels Uefa 'cowards' over Nani's Champions League red card

Manchester United were beaten by Real Madrid in the last-16 encounter

Robin van Persie is still smarting over the controversial red card that contributed to Manchester United's Champions League exit.

During the tie against Real Madrid earlier this month, Nani was sent off for a high collision with Alvero Arbeloa. United were leading the match 2-1 on aggregate at the time but would eventually lose 3-2.

Referee Cuneyt Cakir was heavily criticised in the aftermath of the game, although it was argued that by the letter of the law, Nani's high foot was a red card offence.

Yet van Persie is still frustrated at the decision, and Uefa's response.

"That red card was heavily unjustified," said United's leading goalscorer. "It was not even a yellow card or a free kick. Nani couldn’t do anything about it, he hardly touched Arbeloa.

"The worst thing is that Uefa supports him. That’s cowardly, because I really don’t understand it.

"Why don’t they just be honest and say, 'He hasn’t seen it?'.

Following the match Uefa said they had no issue with Cakir and that the referee would remain eligible to officiate further matches in Europe this season.

The Netherlands international went on to question Uefa's decision to select the Turkish official for such a high profile game.

"I didn’t understand before the game that this man would be the referee, such an unknown referee who hasn’t been in charge of a big games for months.

"Even the guys from Madrid told me afterwards that it was not a red card."

Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho said after the game at Old Trafford that the better team had lost, and van Persie clearly feels Nani's sending off affected the result.

"We really had the feeling that we were going to score the second goal and then it would become very difficult for Real Madrid. But then it the referee pulled the red card."

Nani and Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson, who refused to talk to the media after the match, were set to learn of any punishments in relation to the game later today. However, that has been postponed and they will hear tomorrow at the earliest.

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