Football

Ramos hits out at Pique's paranoia

Barca defender criticises referee for controversially awarding Real Madrid a penalty

They looked destined for a second loss in a week after a defeat by Valencia in midweek.

Real Madrid were trailing Villarreal 2-0 before goals from Gareth Bale, Cristiano Ronaldo and Alvaro Morata capped a spectacular 19-minute comeback to win 3-2 and stay top of La Liga yesterday morning (Singapore time).

The turning point of the match came in the 74th minute when Real, at 2-1 down after Bale had pulled one back in the 64th minute, were awarded a controversial penalty by referee Jesus Gil Manzano when the ball bounced off the ground and struck Villarreal captain Bruno Soriano on the arm.

Ronaldo slammed in the equaliser from the resulting penalty and substitute Morata headed in an 83rd-minute winner to reclaim top spot from Barcelona, who had earlier beaten Atletico Madrid 2-1 to go top temporarily.

After the match, Barcelona defender Gerard Pique took to Twitter to criticise the referee for awarding the controversial penalty to Real and also targeted other referees in La Liga.

"Against the same teams. 8 points. Those clips are from the Madrid press, if you doubted," Pique posted on Twitter, complete with press cuttings from AS and Marca, media outlets based in the Spanish capital.

The reports showed headlines referring to a wrongly disallowed Barcelona goal against Malaga, a Sergio Ramos goal which should have been ruled out against the same opposition, the penalty award yesterday morning and a handball by Villarreal against Barca which was not spotted.

Real captain Ramos said that he was not surprised by his international teammate's outburst.

"We already know about Pique's world, where everything's a plot against him," said Ramos. "The referees have a difficult job, we have to try and make them more comfortable.

You can clearly see I couldn’t have done anything, the ball bounced up towards my arm and I can’t cut my arm off. It’s a bounce and it’s clear to me it wasn’t a penalty.Villarreal captain Bruno Soriano

"Referees sometimes give you and others take away, but you have to be prepared for everything.

"We are not going to get into these issues because it will not change anything, the three points will be added and we will continue to be first."

Soriano felt that he was unfairly penalised for the handball.

"You can clearly see I couldn't have done anything, the ball bounced up towards my arm and I can't cut my arm off. It's a bounce and it's clear to me it wasn't a penalty," Soriano said.

Villarreal coach Fran Escriba and unused substitute Roberto Soldado were dismissed from the dugout for protesting and Escriba said the decision was not in line with the rules.

"I respect referees a lot but every year we are told that a rebound does not warrant a penalty for handball and he interpreted it another way," the coach said.

"We were doing well but, after 2-2, we completely lost our focus and it was very difficult to get over that."

Regarding the penalty, Zidane told Real's official website: "The players have said that it was a handball. I didn't see it from where I was and I'll never interfere with refereeing decisions. He awarded it and that's that." - WIRE SERVICES