Infamous ref sent home from World Cup slammed again after 16

Spanish referee Antonio Mateu Lahoz hit the headlines after showing 18 yellow cards and one red during Argentinas World Cup quarter-final win against the Netherlands

Antonio Mateu Lahoz was the centre of attention once again on Saturday afternoon after showing 16 cards during Barcelonas 1-1 draw against Espanyol.

Xavis side took the lead through Marcos Alonsos early goal and boasted 78 per cent of the ball, but they were denied all three points by Joselus late penalty. The result leavesBarcelonatop ofLaLiga- ahead of title rivalsReal Madridon goal difference. Carlo Ancelottis side boosted their hopes with a 2-0 win at Valladolid on Friday night.

Despite the importance of Saturday afternoons result, the game will be remembered for Lahozs antics. Its just 22 days since he wassent home from the World Cupfor showing 18 yellow cards and one red duringArgentinas win against the Netherlands.

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Ansu Fati, Gavi, Ferran Torres and Raphinha were among those to be booked by Lahoz on Saturday afternoon. There were also red cards for Barcelonas Jordi Alba and Espanyols Vinicius Souza, while Xavi was booked by the 45-year-old official late on.

The Barcelona boss was not impressed with Lahozs performance. I told him that he had lost control of the game, said Xavi when asked why he was booked. Do you think? - he said to me. But we keep coming back to the referee and I cant control the officials.

They should come out and speak, explain their decisions and say what they said to the players. I cant do anything.

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Lahoz was also criticised for hugging Xavi during the first half. When asked about the incident, Xavi said: He said he was happy to see me. I said I was happy him as well.

Yet Xavi was keen to avoid criticising Lahozs display. He added: Its our fault we drew. We can speak about the referee or other things, but its down to us. When you have so many chances, get forward so many times, but arent clinical, it is your fault.

We had an excellent first 30 minutes, but we didnt know how to kill the game off. In the second half, we werent at the rhythm or intensity required. We end the year top of the league with Real Madrid, but its two points dropped today and its our fault.

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Lahoz is one of the most experienced referees in Europe after spending 14 years in LaLiga and taking charge of theChampions Leaguefinal betweenManchester CityandChelseain May 2021. The controversial official remains on UEFAs list of elite referees.

It was Lahozs first LaLiga match since his infamous performance in the World Cup quarter-final. The Spaniard was criticised byLionel Messiand Emiliano Martinez for that display, with the latter insisting: The ref gave everything to them. It all turned upside down.

Messi said: I dont want to talk about the referee because they sanction you. But people saw what happened. We were afraid before the match because we knew how he was and I think FIFA has to review this. You cant put a referee like him for these matches.

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