BARCELONA, Jan 29 (Reuters) - Alaves players were left furious after their 2-1 defeat by Barcelona at the Nou Camp on Sunday, believing they should have been awarded a late penalty.
John Guidetti’s strike put the Basques ahead but late goals by Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi turned the game around before Samuel Umtiti handled Munir El Haddadi’s shot in the dying stages.
The forward, on loan at Alaves from Barcelona, smashed the ball towards goal but it struck Umtiti’s arm and the visitors furiously demanded a penalty, but referee Ignacio Iglesias Villanueva did not give it.
They would have been lucky to get one, given the last time a penalty was awarded against Barcelona in La Liga was almost two years ago, in February, 2016.
Guidetti scored on that day for Celta Vigo in a 6-1 defeat and in 74 league matches since Barcelona have not had a spot- kick given against them, but have earned 32 of their own.
Alaves defender Victor Laguardia highlighted the fact the referee was the same official who failed to award Barcelona a clear goal against Valencia when Lionel Messi’s strike crossed the line.
“He was far away from the play but it was very clear. The referee is the same one from the Mestalla,” Laguardia said.
“Now they are at peace, the two of them, Barca and Iglesias Villanueva.”
Guidetti was also in no doubt that Alaves should have been given the chance to level from the spot.
“I spoke to my team mates and it’s a very clear handball. For me, video-refereeing is necessary in Spain,” he said.
The VAR (video assistant referee) system is set to be used in Spain next season according to La Liga president Javier Tebas, although it has not been officially announced.
However, even with technology in place there will still be room for debate and Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde insisted that although the ball struck Umtiti, it was not a penalty.
“(They) complained that there was a handball. I see it from a Barcelona perspective, of course, and I think that it was involuntary.
“I asked Umtiti and bar cutting off his hand we don’t think there’s anything else he can do about it. For me it’s involuntary, but everyone will see it from their own point of view.”
Barcelona hung on to earn three points which kept them 11 clear at the top of La Liga. (Editing by Ed Osmond)