Pep makes no excuses for draw

Dele Alli heading past Manchester City goalkeeper Claudio Bravo to pull one back for Tottenham and set the North London side on their way to earning a point. It was the midfielder's 11th goal of the season.
Dele Alli heading past Manchester City goalkeeper Claudio Bravo to pull one back for Tottenham and set the North London side on their way to earning a point. It was the midfielder's 11th goal of the season.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Spaniard avoids blaming referee, points finger at missed chances for losing 2-goal lead

LONDON • Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola disguised any feelings of injustice behind criticism of his side's finishing after watching them waste a chance to make up ground at the top of the Premier League on Saturday.

The Spaniard must have been fuming inside after his team were denied a clear penalty when leading 2-1 against Tottenham, 60 seconds before the visitors equalised to secure a 2-2 draw.

But rather than attack referee Andre Marriner for his failure to punish Spurs right-back Kyle Walker for a clear shove on Raheem Sterling in the penalty area, Guardiola again tangled with a BBC reporter.

Asked for his opinion on the pivotal incident, the City manager's response echoed his tetchy post-match interview after his side beat Burnley last month.

"The first question is about the referee?" the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich coach said. "This is the prestigious BBC, we have to talk about the football, no? Not the referee."

Guardiola clearly wanted to change the subject and was more forthcoming about his team's vibrant display which should have earned them more than a draw against second-placed Spurs.

GOALS THE NAME OF THE GAME

It's a pity but it's a copy of what's happened this season. We created more chances, we conceded few, but we are not able to win the right decisions in the right moments. You have to score goals.

PEP GUARDIOLA, Manchester City manager, bemoaning his side's inability to convert chances into goals.

"It was an outstanding performance. It's a pity but it's a copy of what's happened this season. We created more chances, we conceded few, but we are not able to win the right decisions in the right moments. You have to score goals."

City were in complete control in the first half but a combination of poor finishing, Spurs 'keeper Hugo Lloris and desperate defending kept them at bay.

Two mistakes by Lloris allowed Leroy Sane and Kevin de Bruyne to score early in the second half but Tottenham battled back.

"Yeah, I wasn't going to get it (the ball) otherwise. I wanted to put him off as much as possible and then Hugo went and pulled off the save and then we went and hung on to the draw," said Walker, who could have been sent off had the referee pointed to the spot.

Guardiola was at least happy with that admission. "Thank you Walker for being honest. I know this country likes that people are honest, so I appreciate that," he said.

The tactician also warned against expecting too much from new arrival Gabriel Jesus after he made an eye-catching debut coming off the bench against Spurs.

Jesus, a £27 million acquisition from Brazilian club Palmeiras, twice went close to giving City victory, heading narrowly over and seeing a goal ruled out for offside.

But having seen his side squander a succession of chances and blow a 2-0 lead, Guardiola said the 19-year-old Brazil starlet would not be able to solve City's problems singlehandedly.

"He has his talent, but alone (he) cannot do that. So we have to involve (him) a lot," the City coach said. "If it was one day, today, I would tell you. But it was all the season. We have to score goals and we are not able to do that.

"We try to create, we create, but we don't score goals and when that happens, it's impossible to win the games. It's impossible."

City remain fifth on 43 points, nine points adrift of leaders Chelsea, while Spurs held on to second place on 46 points.

Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino conceded City had been "the better team", but he argued their first goal could have been ruled out for handball by Sane.

Lloris' headed clearance struck Sane, allowing the German winger to tap into an empty net, before the France goalkeeper's clumsy attempt to gather Sterling's cross handed de Bruyne the second goal.

But Pochettino backed his goalkeeper, saying: "I think he kept us in the game in the first half.

"He played very well in the first half, one or two big saves. It's not changed my opinion of him. For me he's one of the best 'keepers."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 23, 2017, with the headline 'Pep makes no excuses for draw'. Print Edition | Subscribe