VAR decisions need to be consistent, says Guardiola

Left: Manchester City's Gabriel Jesus appeared to have scored the winning goal in time added on against Tottenham on Saturday but VAR disallowed the goal for a handball by Aymeric Laporte in the build-up. Below: Pep Guardiola having an exchange of wo
Manchester City's Gabriel Jesus appeared to have scored the winning goal in time added on against Tottenham on Saturday but VAR disallowed the goal for a handball by Aymeric Laporte in the build-up. PHOTOS: ASSOCIATED PRESS, DPA
Pep Guardiola having an exchange of words with Sergio Aguero after the player was substituted. The City boss later played down the incident.
Pep Guardiola having an exchange of words with Sergio Aguero after the player was substituted. The City boss later played down the incident. PHOTOS: ASSOCIATED PRESS, DPA

LONDON • Pep Guardiola has seen last-minute Manchester City winners chalked off against Tottenham before, and said Gabriel Jesus' disallowed stoppage-time goal in the 2-2 Premier League draw on Saturday was like "deja vu" of the VAR experience in their Champions League quarter-final in April.

"Last season it was offside, this time it was handball," the frustrated City manager fumed in his post-match news conference.

"We could do with a little more consistency. If that was hands by Aymeric Laporte (in the build-up to Jesus' strike) why was Fernando Llorente not hands last season?

"I also thought we should have had a penalty when Erik Lamela fouled Rodrigo in the area. The VAR people must have been having a cup of coffee at that moment."

There was plenty to occupy Guardiola's thoughts - the VAR decision and a touchline row with striker Sergio Aguero, prominent among them.

But while the emotions of an incident-packed game were clearly still raw, he had not forgotten just how well his City side had played.

The Premier League champions took the lead in the 20th minute when Kevin de Bruyne swung in a cross which Raheem Sterling met with a textbook header.

VAR COFFEE BREAK?

I also thought we should have had a penalty when Erik Lamela fouled Rodrigo in the area. The VAR people must have been having a cup of coffee at that moment.

PEP GUARDIOLA, Manchester City boss, unhappy over a VAR non-decision.

PART OF FOOTBALL

It is part of the game now. I still love to watch games from long ago when the referee was the boss, but things have moved on. We need to accept that it is a benefit and when it is against us we have to deal with it with patience.

MAURICIO POCHETTINO, Tottenham manager, accepting that VAR is here to stay and teams have to go with the flow.

But City's advantage lasted less than three minutes with Lamela firing Spurs level.

The setback did not knock Guardiola's side out of their stride, however, and it was no surprise when Aguero restored their lead in the 35th minute, with de Bruyne once again the provider.

Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino then sent on Lucas Moura as a substitute in the second half and the Brazilian scored with his first touch, heading in from a Lamela corner.

With de Bruyne back to his best after injury limited his influence last season and with club record signing Rodri adding new steel at the back of the midfield, City were dominant for large stretches, playing Guardiola's brand of football with real verve and remarkable precision.

Stats showing that City had 30 shots to Tottenham's three also gave a fair indication of the way the game went.

"We played incredible. One of the best games we've played. The way we controlled right and left and created chances," Guardiola said.

"Unfortunately we cannot win. We lose two times against Tottenham because of VAR. It was deja vu. And that's all."

Guardiola also played down the disagreement with Aguero when the striker was withdrawn.

"It was a misunderstanding. Sergio was upset because he thought I blamed him for their second equaliser," he said. "Emotions were running high."

Pochettino, who joked he was "in love with VAR", had sympathy for Guardiola regarding the technology introduced in the Premier League for the first time this season.

"I have also been a little bit critical of VAR in the past," he said.

"But it is part of the game now. I still love to watch games from long ago when the referee was the boss, but things have moved on.

"We need to accept that it is a benefit and when it is against us we have to deal with it with patience."

THE GUARDIAN, REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 19, 2019, with the headline 'VAR decisions need to be consistent, says Guardiola'. Print Edition | Subscribe