Should Ster­ling have owned up over that bizarre penalty?

The Daily Star (Lebanon) - - SPORTS -

LON­DON: The bizarre spot kick awarded af­ter Ra­heem Ster­ling tripped him­self up dur­ing Manch­ester City’s 6-0 de­mo­li­tion of Shakhtar Donetsk has been branded the “worst penalty de­ci­sion ever” – but should he have owned up?

Hun­gar­ian ref­eree Vik­tor Kas­sai re­mark­ably pointed to the spot af­ter Ster­ling kicked the turf and took a tum­ble mid­way through the first half Wed­nes­day.

City man­ager Pep Guardi­ola’s body lan­guage on the touch­line sug­gested that he dis­agreed with the award of the penalty, and Ster­ling went so far as to apol­o­gize to Kas­sai fol­low­ing the mis­take.

“I went to chip the ball and don’t know what hap­pened,” the Eng­land in­ter­na­tional said.

“I didn’t feel con­tact. I scuffed the ball, apolo­gies to the ref.”

For­mer Liver­pool and Manch­ester City mid­fielder Steve McMana­man called it a “com­i­cal mis­take,” while Henry Win­ter, the chief foot­ball writer for the Times, tweeted: “Roll on VAR and get rid of the use­less lol­lipop men be­hind the goal.”

Ex-Eng­land cap­tain Gary Lineker ab­solved Ster­ling of blame but oth­ers ques­tioned whether he should have done more to per­suade the ref­eree that it was not a penalty.

For­mer Liver­pool striker Rob­bie Fowler won a UEFA fair play award for do­ing just that in 1997.

He tried to con­vince ref­eree Ger­ald Ashby that Arse­nal goal­keeper David Sea­man had not touched him when a penalty was awarded to the Liver­pool striker at High­bury.

“It wasn’t a penalty and be­cause he was my mate from the Eng­land side, I just said it wasn’t a pen,” Fowler said in com­ments quoted by the Liver­pool Echo news­pa­per.

In his post-match news con­fer­ence, Guardi­ola ad­mit­ted that “we re­al­ized im­me­di­ately it was not a penalty,” adding that ref­er­ees need help from VAR, which will be used in the Cham­pi­ons League from next sea­son. “We don’t like re­ally to score a goal in that sit­u­a­tion,” he said, adding that Ster­ling could have come clean to the ref­eree.

For­mer Pre­mier League ref­eree Mark Clat­ten­burg said it would have been an “in­cred­i­ble act of sports­man­ship” had Ster­ling done so.

“Even then, it may not have been enough to con­vince the Hun­gar­ian of­fi­cial to change his mind,” he wrote in the Daily Mail. –

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