Ranieri apologises for 'agitated' post-match remarks

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The Independent Online

The Valencia coach Claudio Ranieri has apologised unreservedly for his stinging criticism of the Swedish referee, Anders Frisk, after his side's 2-0 defeat against Werder Bremen in the Champions' League on Tuesday night.

The Valencia coach Claudio Ranieri has apologised unreservedly for his stinging criticism of the Swedish referee, Anders Frisk, after his side's 2-0 defeat against Werder Bremen in the Champions' League on Tuesday night.

"I want to apologise for what I said," Ranieri said. "I was in a very agitated state at the time. Anders Frisk is a very good referee. I got carried away by the tension of the moment and I would like to ask for forgiveness for what occurred."

The former Chelsea manager had blamed Frisk for contributing to the incidents that occurred in the final minutes of Tuesday's match.

"The fans and players were under great pressure during the game," Ranieri said on television immediately after the Group G match at the Mestalla. "When you see the referee give them more than you, you feel as though you are being shafted. Now I understand what happened to him at Roma when they hit him on the head."

Frisk was left bloodied when he was struck by a missile thrown from the crowd during Roma's Champions' League match with Dynamo Kiev in September. The game was abandoned and Kiev were subsequently awarded a 3-0 victory whilst Roma were ordered to play their next two European matches behind closed doors.

Tempers flared near the end of Tuesday's match when the Werder substitute Nelson Valdez gave the German side the lead, effectively ending the Spanish champions' qualification hopes.

The Valencia midfielder Miguel Angel Angulo was then sent off for an ugly tackle on the Paraguayan striker, Valdez, and was seen to spit at Werder midfielder Tim Borowski as he walked off. Valdez added another goal in injury time, prompting several Werder players, including Borowski, to gesture towards the home crowd who had thrown objects on to the pitch.

Victory ensured the German champions of a place in the next round alongside group winners Internazionale, while Valencia have to be satisfied with defending their Uefa Cup title.

At home, Bremen are also flourishing. Valdez's double came after Angelos Haristeas, who helped Greece to victory at Euro 2004, hit a league hat-trick in the 6-0 win at Freiburg at the weekend.

Germany's Miroslav Klose, bought from Kaiserslautern in the close season, is the Bundesliga's joint second-top scorer with 10 goals while Werder's goal tally of 35 is also the highest in the league.

"What the team has shown in the Champions' League matches is sensational. They deserve a lot of praise," the Werder coach Thomas Schaaf said, adding a special mention for 21-year-old Valdez.

"He's a good lad who doesn't get the attention he deserves. He really showed his qualities today. You can rely on him."

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