INCENSED Arsene Wenger insisted referee Martin Hansson had made a “massive mistake” as Arsenal were hit by a Champions League sucker punch in Porto.
Wenger was furious after the Swedish official awarded Porto an indirect free-kick inside the box after keeper Lukasz Fabianski had picked up Sol Campbell’s back-pass.
Hansson then allowed the hosts to take the kick immediately and the quick-thinking Ruben Micael rolled the ball to Falcao to slot home the winner.
It capped a frustrating night for the Gunners defence, who were still smarting from an equally disastrous first goal when Fabianski had spilled Silvestre Varela’s cross into his own net on just 11 minutes.
Sol Campbell’s headed equaliser looked to have played the Gunners back into the match until Falcao’s comic effort soured the mood in the visiting dressing room.
“I believe it [the back-pass] was accidental, Sol touched it accidentally,” Wenger raged. “And the referee should give us time to build the wall.
Asked if Porto should have been allowed to act so quickly, Wenger added: “Yes, in the middle of the field, but not in the box. We had no chance to defend. I think it was a massive mistake, it was a double mistake. It was a penalty for us as well when [Tomas] Rosicky went down just before.”
Fabianski, standing in for the injured Manuel Almunia must have wanted the ground to swallow him up after his fumble gave the fast-starting hosts a deserved lead.
But the lead lasted just seven minutes when Campbell, also in as a replacement, for William Gallas, headed Arsenal level from Tomas Rosicky’s cut-back for his second game in as many Champions League games – albeit three-and-a-half years apart following his goal in the 2006 final.
Striker Hulk looked dangerous for the visitors, but the Gunners seemed to weathered the early storm until their defensive calamity on 52 minutes sent the Portuguese air blue.
The Gunners also felt hard done by when claims for a penalty fell of deaf ears after Rosicky was bundled over by Alvaro Pereira, but captain Cesc Fabregas lay the blame for defeat on his own side’s doorstep.
“When you concede these goals you cannot go anywhere, schoolboy goals, what can you do?” he added.