It was only going to be a matter of time. As soon as Pep Guardiola walked onto the field at half time to confront the referee you knew it wasn’t going to end well. The spark which set the fire was the disallowed goal late in the first half.
With no VAR, and seemingly both the referee and extra official just outside the box oblivious, I will say it was a clear goal. Debate has raged on social media as to whether it was a goal or not. Ex referees have come out to say it should have stood. From my point of view (and for full disclosure I am a City fan) it was a goal.
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So just to be clear yes, the goalkeeper was ahead of Sane, who was level with the last defender. These facts on their own, ruled offside, would have been fine. The debate comes from who played the ball to Sane. In this case, it was clearly the ex City player, James Milner. Just like a throw in or corner kick, being played in by an opposition player, negates all the above.
The linesman can only judge from what he sees, which is to raise the flag. The two officials who could, and should, have overruled that flag, were the referee, and the official behind the goal. A failure to see that Milner touched the ball was the frustrating part for Guardiola, and the reason for his reaction.
Sent to the stands for the entire second half, City fell apart. No one on the City bench seemed to take charge and instruct players with any great passion. Substitutions were slow and laboured, but the punishment could continue.
Announced today Is that Pep Guardiola and Liverpool now face action from UEFA. I don’t really care too much about Liverpool. They already have charges pending from the first game but I am not holding my breath for any significant reaction from Europe’s governing body.
As for Pep, his pre match comments could come back to hurt him. Stating after the game that he was calm and polite towards the Spanish official doesn’t gel with the finger-pointing and angry, contorted face which was clearly visible.
Last season the same referee failed to give City a clear penalty and send off the Monaco keeper with the score at 1-1. Instead he booked Aguero for diving. When we could have gone 2-1 up at a critical point we instead soon went 2–1 down. Similar was the case last night. Instead of 2-0 at the half, we went in with a slim lead, and no manager on the sidelines.
So what sanctions could Pep face? Certainly a two match ban, and a fine are not out of the question. I don’t think either of which would bother the Catalan coach a whole lot. UEFA will meet again in May in order to review all these incidents so we shall see what happens to both the English clubs.
For now, it has to be a case of licking the wounds for a day, then get back to work. Spurs are up next and it will take full focus from the Blues in order to not be on the end of a fourth defeat in a row.