Robin van Persie's surprise return from injury ended disastrously on Tuesday after his contentious sending off led to Arsenal being knocked out of the Champions League by Barcelona.
The Netherlands striker recovered from a knee injury to make the starting team as Arsenal looked to defend a 2-1 first-leg lead at the Nou Camp. But his second yellow card in the 56th minute left the visitors with 10 men, and the Spanish champions scored twice afterward to win 3-1 and 4-3 on aggregate.
Van Persie's second booking was for kicking the ball away after the whistle had blown, but he labeled referee Massimo Busacca's decision a "total joke."
"How can I hear this whistle with 95,000 people jumping up?" Van Persie said. "I cannot understand that view from the ref. If there were four, five, six seconds in between, you can make a check (for offside). One second? It's a joke.
"He's been bad all evening, whistling against us. I don't know why he's here tonight. We feel betrayed a bit, when it was 1-1 it was all to play for and in my opinion this referee killed the game."
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger was also angry.
"I just spoke to UEFA people and they are shocked as well," Wenger said. "You promise a fantastic football match, but what for? How he did it, frankly it's embarrassing for the game."
Barcelona dominated possession - winning nearly 70 percent - and had 19 shots as opposed to none for Arsenal.
"Overall I'm convinced we would have won this game," said Wenger, who was reportedly involved in a bust-up with Busacca in the players' tunnel after the game. "If you play football at a certain level you cannot understand this decision. To take the decision in that way and how quickly he did it."
Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola felt some sympathy for the English club, even though Wenger said he had the referee to thank for the result.
"I can understand that they are out of because of Van Persie. This kind of way to analyze the situation, I can understand," Guardiola said. "But in the first game many, many things happened."
Van Persie, who scored in the first leg at Emirates Stadium, recovered in only nine days after Wenger has initially ruled him out for up to a month.
He was initially booked in first-half injury time after barging into Daniel Alves, one of five yellow cards shown to the English club compared to zero for Barcelona.
Arsenal was ousted by Barcelona for the second straight season after bowing out to the Spanish champions in the quarterfinals last year.