Robin van Persie's red card for Arsenal vs Barcelona happened 10 years ago today


It’s exactly 10 years to the day since Robin van Persie received one of the harshest red cards in recent football history while playing for Arsenal against Barcelona in the Champions League.

Arsenal went into the 2010-11 second-leg tie 2-1 up on aggregate after sealing a famous victory at the Emirates Stadium three weeks earlier.

Two late goals from Van Persie and Andrey Arshavin cancelled out David Villa’s opener and left Arsene Wenger’s side full of confidence heading to the Camp Nou on March 8, 2011.

Lionel Messi put Barça 1-0 up in the second leg on the stroke of half-time with an exquisite goal, but Arsenal went 3-2 ahead on aggregate (scoring a precious away goal in the process) when Sergio Busquets turned the ball into his own net in the 53rd minute.

Just a couple of minutes later, though, came the turning point of the entire tie.


Van Persie found himself through on goal with only Victor Valdes to beat but missed the target with his weaker right foot.

Referee Massimo Busacca then stunned the Dutchman by flashing a second yellow card, followed by a red, in his direction.


Van Persie was penalised for shooting after Busacca had blown his whistle and subsequently sent off.

Despite pleading with the referee that he hadn’t heard the whistle in front of the 95,000-strong crowd, a horrified Van Persie was sent for an early bath.

Watch the incident here...

Barça went on to score two more goals through Xavi and Messi, sealing a 4-3 aggregate victory and booking their place in the Champions League quarter-finals at the expense of their 10-man opponents.

Van Persie described the decision as a “total joke” in his post-match interview on Sky Sports.

“In my opinion, it was a total joke the sending off. How can I hear his whistle with 95,000 people jumping up? How can I hear that, for God’s sake? Please explain that to me.”


Sky Sports Geoff Shreeves then told Van Persie there was only one second between the ref’s whistle and the shot.

“It makes it even worse because I could understand the ref’s view if it was four, five, six seconds and you chip the ball or something. This way, one second between his whistle and the shot, is just a joke.

“He’s been bad all evening. He’s been a joke all evening. I don’t know why he’s here tonight - honestly, I think it’s a joke.”


Van Persie ended the interview by accusing Busacca of “killing the game” - a statement that Wenger completely agreed with.

"It killed a promising, fantastic match,” Wenger told reporters after the match. “If it's a bad tackle, OK, but frankly it is embarrassing."


Barça boss Pep Guardiola, however, felt the best team had deservedly gone through.

"Wenger told me to congratulate the referee," Guardiola, now the manager of Manchester City, said.

"The reality is Arsenal were not able to string together three consecutive passes and they were not able to shoot once on goal.”

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