Football: Missed chances, not ref, to blame - Guardiola

Manchester City's manager Pep Guardiola gestures during the match.
Manchester City's manager Pep Guardiola gestures during the match.PHOTO: EPA

MANCHESTER, United Kingdom (AFP) - Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola said his side's wasteful finishing rather than a contentious refereeing decision was to blame for their 2-2 draw with Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday (Jan 21).

City were 2-1 up, Dele Alli having hit back for Spurs after goals by Leroy Sane and Kevin De Bruyne, when Raheem Sterling appeared to be shoved in the back by Kyle Walker inside the visitors' box.

The City forward's tame subsequent shot was easily saved by Hugo Lloris and after referee Andre Marriner waved away the hosts' penalty appeals, Spurs equalised through Son Heung-Min.

 

But Guardiola said: "We lost because we missed a lot of chances. When that happens, the influence of the referee is higher. When you score a goal, the referee doesn't matter.

"In my career, the referee doesn't matter. But the rules here are the rules so maybe (referees' chief) Mike Riley one day is going to explain to me when it's a push here or here or here.

"Still I don't understand. But again, we lost because we missed chances. When we don't miss a lot of chances, the referee doesn't matter."

Walker, who set up Alli's 58th-minute header, conceded that he had been guilty of a push on his England colleague Sterling.

"I wasn't going to get (the ball) otherwise," he said. "You have to put him off as much as possible."

But Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino countered that City's first goal should have been disallowed for handball by Sane, who blocked a headed clearance by Lloris before tapping into an empty net.

"The first goal we conceded was handball," said the Argentine, who saw his side's seven-game winning run come to an end.

"We can't start to see every single detail. In England it's different. It wasn't a penalty. From my side, there's no complaint from me about the referee."

The result kept City in fifth place in the Premier League table, nine points below leaders Chelsea, who host Hull City on Sunday.

Tottenham remain second, six points behind Chelsea, but they will concede the position to Arsenal if their north London rivals win at home to Burnley on Sunday.