Manchester City got a boost with a farcical penalty award in its favour in yesterday’s match against Shakhtar Donetsk, which led to manager Pep Guardiola calling for the introduction of VAR.
Man U had shown that it needed no help to swat aside Shakhtar Donetsk 6-0 to move to the brink of the Champions League last 16.
During the Wednesday’s game, Hungarian referee Viktor Kassai remarkably pointed to the spot when Raheem Sterling tripped himself up as he bore down on goal midway through the first half with City already leading 1-0 through David Silva’s opener.
“It’s not (a penalty),” said Guardiola. “VAR doesn’t exist in UEFA so that is the problem.”
The use of video referees was largely deemed successful at the World Cup with a promise that it will be introduced in the Champions League next season.
But, Guardiola, who was sent to the stands for protesting a goal City had wrongly ruled out in a quarter-final elimination to Liverpool last season, called for it to be used in the competition this term.
His words, “The referee must be helped by the technology. It’s not nice to score a goal in that (way) but it happened to us last season against Liverpool so the referee must be helped.”
Similarly, Sterling apologised to Kassai after kicking the ground as he attempted to chip the ball goalwards.
“I went to chip the ball and don’t know what happened,” said the England international.
“I didn’t feel contact. I scuffed the ball, apologies to the ref.”
The German magazine Der Spiegel had reported that City, the English champions attempted to bypass UEFA’s Financial Fair Play (FFP) regulations.
It was reported that the storm clouds may be brewing in City’s boardroom; appearing they can do no wrong on the field as they prepare for the Manchester derby on Sunday.
AFP reported that lack of atmosphere had been blamed for City’s surprising record of three defeats in their previous three Champions League games at home.
The latest of those to Lyon in front of plenty of empty seats at the Etihad in September has now been long forgotten as back-to-back victories over Shakhtar and Hoffenheim have put City in a commanding position at the top of the group.
The fans were in better voice with fewer jeers than usual for the Champions League anthem and they soon had something to cheer when Silva tapped home Mahrez’s cross.
Guardiola apologised to Gabriel Jesus for nominating Mahrez as the penalty taker when the Algerian missed from the spot late on in a 0-0 draw at Liverpool last month.
The Brazilian started up front ahead of Sergio Aguero with one eye on keeping the Argentine fresh for Sunday, but Jesus may now have played himself into contention by more than doubling his tally for the season.
Jesus calmly slotted home the hotly contested spot-kick before Sterling curled in his seventh of the season from the edge of the area three minutes into the second half.
Possibly embarrassed by his earlier award, Kassai resisted a few more claims for a City penalty, but did eventually point to the spot once more when Silva was tripped 18 minutes from time and Jesus fired into the roof of the net.
Mahrez made it five by sneaking a shot in at the near post on his weaker right foot before Jesus’ chip rounded off the scoring in stoppage time.