Mascherano apologizes for referee rant during Copa del Rey match

Javier Mascherano was booked after arguing when Guilherme Siqueira escaped a yellow card after bringing down Lionel Messi during the closing stages of Barca's 1-0 win on Wednesday.

Alex Caparros/Getty Images

Javier Mascherano has apologized for his vociferous arguments against the referee during Barcelona’s Copa del Rey first-leg clash with Atletico Madrid.

The Argentina international was booked for his reaction when Guilherme Siqueira escaped a yellow card after bringing down Lionel Messi during the closing stages of Barca’s 1-0 win on Wednesday. Head coach Luis Enrique was forced to defend his players from accusations of trying to harass officials after the match, and Mascherano has now admitted he was wrong to demand further action against Siqueira having seen the incident again.

"Watching the play, it’s true the player didn’t deserve a yellow, I apologize," he was quoted as saying by AS. "On the pitch, the sensations you get mean you see it one way, and then you realize you were wrong."

Messi converted a rebound after seeing his penalty saved by Jan Oblak to hand Barca a slender lead heading into the second leg, and Mascherano hopes to see his side take the same level of intensity to the Vicente Calderon next week.

"[It was a] difficult game, a fight – as always – against a strong team," he continued. "The result was important but we know we have a tough game on their turf, in front of their fans, where they’re strong. They’re a team who do everything with sense. They don’t give you options in attack, in breaking their system. They hardly ever lose, so it’s valuable to win and not concede."

He added: "But it will be tough there. Hopefully we can go out with the same intensity, which will not be easy."

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