Cristiano Ronaldo feels the forces that do not want Real Madrid to win the La Liga title were behind some of the dodgy decisions which eventually saw Barcelona pull off a stunning 4-3 win over their bitter rivals in a controversy-ridden El Clasico at the Bernabeu.
Leading 3-2 in the second half, after Ronaldo had scored from the penalty spot, courtesy a lucky decision, the match turned in the 64th minute when Neymar went down rather easily under the challenge of Sergio Ramos with referee Alberto Mallenco pointing to the spot and also sending the Real Madrid defender off.
Lionel Messi duly converted the penalty, and then later completed his hat-trick courtesy another spot-kick won by Andres Iniesta late in the game as Barcelona cranked up the pressure with an extra man.
Ronaldo was left disillusioned after the high-voltage El Clasico, and felt the referee favoured Barcelona, who without the win would have found it extremely difficult to claw their way back in the La Liga title race. Now, the race is very much open with Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid level on points at the top of the table, with Barcelona just a point behind.
"We are sad because we knew we deserved more, but the fight goes on," Ronaldo was quoted as saying by Real's official website. "It is difficult because a lot of people did not want us to win and Barcelona would have been out of it.
"Maybe they don't want Real Madrid to win this Liga. I've been here for five years, so I know how a lot of things are and I hope to win it regardless of this.
"It's a feeling of sadness after being 3-2 up and controlling the game. The referee made some unbelievable decisions, but you have to carry on. We were unlucky with everything that happened, but we are still ahead of them and the Liga goes on.
"We have only lost one game, it is all open and I think the team is fine."
Ronaldo, in the end, felt the referee was just not strong enough to be able to handle such a volatile contest between the two biggest clubs in Spain. "There were a lot of errors in one match," the Portuguese, who apart from the goal, had a pretty underwhelming game, added. "In a Real Madrid-Barcelona you have to have a referee who is up to the game.
"I don't want to look for excuses but if you look at the 90 minutes the referee made a lot of mistakes. Really bad. In my opinion he was not up to a match of this stature. Hopefully it won't be the same in the final of the Copa Del Rey [where the two teams meet again.]
"I looked at him and he was pale, that's because he was so nervous and he was unable to make the right decisions. A referee has to be relaxed in order to do as well as possible. It makes me think that matches are not only won on the pitch, but also with a little help off of it."