Monday 23 September 2019

Pep points to Liverpool goal last season after penalty criticism

Manchester City 6-0 Shakhtar Donetsk

Raheem Sterling catches his toe in the turf and is awarded a penalty during Manchester City’s victory last night. Photo: Reuters
Raheem Sterling catches his toe in the turf and is awarded a penalty during Manchester City’s victory last night. Photo: Reuters

Luke Edwards

Pep Guardiola insisted that Manchester City were under no obligation to correct the referee's mistake after the farcical awarding of the first-half penalty to Raheem Sterling which took some of the attention away from a superb performance.

Gabriel Jesus hit a hat-trick as City all but booked their place in the last 16 and, with Lyon dropping points at home to Hoffenheim, Guardiola's men should also go through as Group F winners.

However, after David Silva's opening goal in the 13th minute, what should have been a moment of calamity for Sterling instead managed to double City's lead.

The in-form England international burst into the penalty area and went down, without any contact or even a challenge, after driving his foot into the ground, as he attempted a chip.

Hungarian referee Viktor Kassai could not have seen the incident clearly as he awarded the spot-kick and Brazilian Jesus slotted home.

Asked afterwards whether City or Sterling could have done anything to help the official, the Catalan coach cited a crucial moment from City's Champions League exit last season in his team's defence.

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola. Photo: PA
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola. Photo: PA

"He could do that, yeah," said Guardiola when asked whether Sterling could have told the referee about the error.


"But last season Liverpool and Milner could say the same for the pass for the second goal in the 44th minute (in quarter-final second leg).

"That was a legal goal. He could do that but (ref Antonio) Mateu Lahoz didn't want to concede that goal so that's why it happened. You could do that.

"We don't really like to score a goal in that situation because it was clear but the referee only realised at the end.

"VAR is what it is. I said a long time ago the refs must be helped."

It is difficult to say but whatever Manchester City have spent, whatever they are paying manager Guardiola and no matter how underhand they may have been in breaking financial fair play rules, it has been worth it.

Fine art has always cost a lot of money and this City team are a masterpiece.

No matter how hard he tries to lower expectations, City are more than capable of becoming European champions.

Having scored six against a limited Southampton side last weekend, Guardiola's side did it again against the Ukranian champions Shakhtar Donetsk.

This City project does not come without grievances, but while there have been plenty of other expensively-constructed teams over the years, few have held your gaze like this.

The best team in England look as though they are going to do something very special in Europe.

City slowly, gradually and relentlessly increased the pressure on the Shakhtar defence, prodding and probing for an opening, until the breakthrough came. It took them just over 10 minutes.

When Riyad Mahrez collected the ball on the right side of the area, the Algerian was marked by three defenders, but that did not worry him.

Mahrez turned one way, then the next, he dummied, and he was able to cut the ball back for Silva to tap home inside the six-yard box. So simple, so devastating.

When you are this good, you do not need any help from the officials. When Sterling was sent in on goal by a through ball from Fernandinho, the England striker was composing himself to shoot when he kicked the turf and fell over. But as everyone laughed, Kassai could not believe Sterling would do something so calamitous, decided there must have been a foul, and pointed to the spot. Sterling stayed silent and Jesus converted the spot kick.


Sterling must have felt a little awkward but redeemed himself with a wonderful solo goal at the start of the second half.

They scored their fourth when Taras Stepanenko bundled over Silva inside the area and Jesus converted his second penalty of the evening.

A fifth goal always seemed likely and when Jesus stole possession on the halfway line, he played it on to Ilkay Gundogan, who picked out an unmarked Mahrez on the other side of the area and he slotted the ball through the legs of the goalkeeper.

The Ukrainians were crushed and Jesus completed his hat-trick in stoppage time when he lobbed Andriy Pyatov.

The Left Wing - RWC daily: Bullet trains as Ireland spread wings

Also in Sport