Manuel Pellegrini has accused Swedish referee Jonas Eriksson of favouritism as he awarded Barcelona a penalty and showed Martin Demichellis a red card in Manchester City's 2-0 loss to the Spanish giants at the Etihad stadium.
The former Malaga man questioned the appointment of a Swedish referee where he believes that the game played is of a lower quality than in England
The Chilean believes that the contact with Messi was made outside the box and should never have been a penalty in the first place, by virtue of which City conceded the lead.
The Citizens were playing very well till the 54th minute when Jesus Navas lost the ball in midfield, which allowed Barcelona to get in behind for the first time in the game.
The Citizens, down to ten men, gave it a proper go in the closing stages of the game but a slip by Gael Clichy allowed full back Dani Alvez some space on the right, one which he utilised well to put the result beyond doubt.
City will now travel to the Nou Camp to take on Barcelona in the second leg with the latter firm favourites to qualify for the next round, having scored two away goals. However, Pellegrini, who has faced Barcelona during his time with Malaga and Real Madrid was hard done by the decision and blamed the referee for their misfortune.
"He refereed Barcelona against Milan and made an important error against Barca — tonight he remedied it. From the beginning the referee was not impartial to both teams. There is more important football in Europe than Sweden. This was a game with two important teams and it needed a referee with more experience," Pellegrini said.
"He didn't have any control of the game. It was not a good idea to put a referee from Sweden in charge of such an important match. I told him that he decided the game and I wasn't very happy.
"The penalty was not a penalty. The foul was outside the box, you can't continue the foul. More importantly, we were building up the play and the important mistake was the foul on Navas," Pellegrini concluded.