Mascherano: Barca worthy winners

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Barcelona midfielder Javier Mascherano insists his side were deserving winners of their Champions League last-16 tie with Arsenal.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger felt his team would have progressed through to the quarter-finals of the competition but for the controversial second-half dismissal of Gunners forward Robin van Persie by referee Massimo Busacca.

"Wenger has every right to his opinion, but the statistics say that it would have been very unfair if we hadn't qualified having not received a single shot on goal," Mascherano was quoted as saying by Marca.

"It was unusual that it was 1-1 without them having had a shot. Wenger knows how the game was, it's tough to lose and nobody likes to be knocked out."

When Van Persie was dismissed the score in Tuesday night's second leg at the Nou Camp was 1-1 after a Sergio Busquets own goal had cancelled out Lionel Messi's opener for Barca, leaving Arsenal holding a 3-2 aggregate lead.

However, Barca turned the tie around with two goals in a three-minute spell midway through the second half, Xavi levelling things up on aggregate before Messi's penalty decided things in favour of the Catalan giants.

Mascherano added pointedly: "Barca always win due to the referee, never because of their play, not because they had 19 shots on goal, or for having 74% of the possession or completing 900 passes...

"Lets not be hypocrites. We didn't allow them them to breathe, that was the key. We played like Barca and that's why we qualified."

The former Liverpool man added: "I'm proud of how the team stayed true to their philosophy during the game. At times when teams have to force the win they lose their identity, but it wasn't like that. It could have been 5-1 or 6-1 because we had very clear goalscoring chances."

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Robin Van Persie
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Premier League
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