Sterling apologises over penalty, Pep calls for VAR
Raheem Sterling apologised to the referee after he controversially won a penalty in Manchester City’s 6-0 victory over Shakhtar Donetsk. The England forward kicked the floor as he raced through on goal tripping himself up, but referee Viktor Kassai bizarrely pointed to the spot.
City were already leading through David Silva’s 13th minute strike when Gabriel Jesus converted the penalty for the first of his three goals.
“I went to chip the ball and I don’t know what happened next. I ended up on the floor and turned around,” Sterling told BT Sport.
“I don’t think I felt contact, it was just my bad. I hit the floor and scuffed the floor. Apologies to the ref and apologies to Shakhtar.”
Sterling did at least make up for it with a brilliant individual strike as City battered the Ukrainian champions to move three points clear at the top of Group F, although qualification for the last-16 is still not secure because of their shock defeat to Lyon in the Champions League opener.
“It was a massive win,” Sterling added. “The Lyon match was one of those a wake-up calls. You lose the ball and these good teams can punish you.”
Pep Guardiola said he immediately disagreed with the decision and says he has sympathy for the officials who cannot use VAR. However, he said there was no question of not scoring as they had been on the wrong side of other decisions, including the controversial ruling out of a Leroy Sane goal in City’s defeat to Liverpool in last season’s Champions League.
“Yeah, we realised immediately it wasn’t a penalty,” he told a news conference. “He could [say it wasn’t a penalty], yeah. But last season Liverpool and Milner could say the same. You could do that.
“I don’t like to score a goal in that situation. He didn’t realise. He hit the grass. VAR, where is it? The referees said a long time ago they must be helped. They don’t want to make mistakes. They must be helped. It takes two, three 10 seconds to make a decision [with VAR].”
City need a point in their next game in Lyon to be certain of reaching the last-16 while a win in France will guarantee them top spot.
“I am a happy man. It was an incredible performance, the way we attacked and defended,” Guardiola added. “The problem is believing it is easy because it’s not. Unfortunately we’re not qualified but we are so close. We want to maintain that level. After the Lyon defeat and the first goal in Germany the situation was so complicated. We reacted really well, especially the last two. We are in a good position but it’s not done. Maybe that will help us keep focused.”