LONDON • Pep Guardiola has retracted his claim that Liverpool forward Sadio Mane is a diver, with the Spaniard also saying he did not wish to "pour oil on the fire" before Manchester City's Premier League visit to Anfield on Sunday.
The City manager had suggested the Senegalese player is "sometimes diving" after he was booked for simulation in Liverpool's last-ditch 2-1 victory at Aston Villa last Saturday.
This followed the forward securing penalties, in the fourth minute of added time against Leicester and late on in another league game against Tottenham. Both spot kicks were converted and resulted in 2-1 wins for Liverpool on both occasions.
Reds boss Jurgen Klopp had forcibly disagreed with the view before the City boss' climbdown.
"In the 94th minute against Leicester, it was a penalty and it was wow," Guardiola said.
"It (late goals) happens many times at Anfield and away because they push and they push.
"That was the intention for my comment.
"Far from my intention to say Sadio is this type of (diving) player because I admire him a lot.
"For Jurgen it is a penalty, for the referee it was a penalty, for VAR it was a penalty, so I was the wrong guy.
"Hopefully, I can clarify everything for Jurgen. Jurgen said he knows Sadio better than me.
"And I have an incredible respect for the message in the football to always try to be like this, always positive and attractive.
"What Liverpool have done last season and this season many times is because they have this incredible quality and this incredible talent to fight until the end.
"That's why it's nice to face them and try to compete with them."
He also dismissed Klopp's claim that the City counterpart is fixated with Liverpool, as suggested by him learning details of the Reds' matches so quickly after his own.
Guardiola said: "I don't know. I didn't listen to what he said so I don't know."
He did attempt to close down Klopp's claim regarding City and "tactical fouls", a view also shared by Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, his predecessor Jose Mourinho, and West Ham manager Manuel Pellegrini.
"No comment on that. I don't put oil on the fire," he insisted.
The two teams meet in a top-of-the-table clash at Anfield on Sunday, with Liverpool six points ahead of City, who have 25 points.
THE GUARDIAN, REUTERS