GENEVA (AP) — Cuneyt Cakir's decision to give a red card to Manchester United winger Nani is heading into Champions League lore as the game-changer that led to United's exit and Real Madrid's advancement.
Despite the controversial call, the Turkish referee may have passed a UEFA audition to be selected for the final in May.
With United leading 1-0, Cakir red-carded Nani in the 56th minute after the United player stretched his leg to try to control the ball but caught Alvaro Arbeloa in the chest.
Madrid then scored two quick goals and won 2-1, advancing to the quarterfinals on aggregate.
Cakir was watched at Old Trafford by UEFA head of referees Pierluigi Collina. He's overseen the 36-year-old official's rapid rise, including nomination to FIFA's shortlist for the 2014 World Cup.