Veteran referee Pierluigi Collina awarded Turkish official Cuneyt Cakir an outstanding score for his performance during Manchester United's match with Real Madrid on Tuesday.

Although many supporters felt Cakir's decision to send off United winger Nani was extremely harsh, Collina, UEFA's head of referees, gave him an overall rating of 8.2

According to El Mundo Deportivo, Collina believed Cakir "was right to send off Nani" and agreed with his decision not to punish Rafael for handball in United's penalty area.

El Mundo added: "Collina criticised only one of Cakir's decisions: not sending off Rio Ferdinand after the match when the defender applauded him, inches from his face."

Cakir has received widespread criticism in the wake of Tuesday night's match, which turned when he sent off Nani for a high challenge on Alvaro Arbeloa.

United were winning 1-0 when the Portuguese winger was sent off, but the decision gave Real a crucial advantage and they scored twice in quick succession shortly after the red card.

Esteemed English referee Dermot Gallagher said after the match that Nani's punishment was excessive, and he would not have made the same decision had he been in charge.

Cakir, an insurance agent, has issued 36 yellow cards and three reds in his last eight Turkish league matches. He also sent off John Terry during Chelsea's 2-2 draw with Barcelona last year, albeit in far less controversial circumstances.

Yesterday rumours surfaced that Cakir was a Real Madrid fan who followed the club on Twitter. However his account has since been proved to be fake.

Collina was widely regarded as one of the world's finest referees during his refereeing career, earning the title of FIFA's 'Best Referee of the Year' in six consecutive years.

Pierluigi Collina
The bald facts: Piergluigi Collina