Referee Gil Manzano, right, shows a red card to FC Barcelona Clement Lenglet during the Spanish La Liga soccer match between FC Barcelona and Girona at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, Spain, Sunday, Sept. 23, 2018. Image Credit: AP

Barcelona: Girona midfielder Pere Pons said Barcelona’s Clement Lenglet did not deserve to be sent off after their collision in the 2-2 La Liga draw on Sunday.

Frenchman Lenglet’s first league start since his 36 million-euro move from Sevilla turned sour when he was shown a straight red card in the 35th minute at Camp Nou following a coming together with Pons, after referee Jesus Gil Manzano consulted the video assistant referee (VAR).

“We were both going 100 per cent for the ball and it’s true I got hit but when I got up I said sorry to Lenglet and gave him my hand because we had been awarded the foul after we collided and at first I thought I had committed the foul,” Pons said.

“It was no one’s fault and in the end the person who decided was a third party, the VAR. I didn’t notice the impact from his elbow.” At the time of the incident, Barca were leading 1-0 with a goal from Lionel Messi but Girona made the most of their numerical advantage with two strikes either side of half-time from Cristhian Stuani to take an unlikely lead.

Gerard Pique then netted a header to level the score.

“We played incredibly well here and it annoys me that the only thing everyone is talking about is that incident,” added Pons.

Barca coach Ernesto Valverde also thought the red card was harsh on Lenglet.

“It’s the first sending-off where I’ve seen the player who received the foul apologised,” he said.

“I suppose VAR will do it justice but I have the sensation it wasn’t a sending-off; there may have been an impact but I don’t think it was aggressive at all. It’s a foul by the opponent.” Barca midfielder Sergio Busquets criticised the involvement of the video referee in the sending off.

“VAR needs to be used correctly and with the same criteria,” Busquets said.

“Perhaps there was contact but the ball was on the floor and it’s a natural movement. It wasn’t aggressive, he didn’t go out to hurt him and even the Girona player apologised as he had made the foul.” Barca went into the weekend two points clear of Real Madrid in the standings but are now locked on 13 points with their arch rivals, who beat Espanyol 1-0 on Saturday.

“We were playing well until the sending off and then everything went uphill for us,” Busquets added.

“We kept trying, we got the equaliser and were looking for the winner but with one player down it was very tough and we ran ourselves into the ground.”