LUCKY CITY

Mahrez penalty mishap lets Guardi­ola’s side off the hook

New Straits Times - - Sport -

MANCHESTER

RIYAD Mahrez had a bizarre penalty ruled out as Manchester City sur­vived a stir­ring Le­ices­ter City fight­back to claim a 2-1 vic­tory and climb above Liver­pool into third place in the Pre­mier League yes­ter­day.

Af­ter dom­i­nat­ing be­fore the in­ter­val the hosts were hang­ing on at times in the se­cond half and Mahrez had the chance to res­cue a de­served point for last sea­son’s cham­pi­ons.

But his 77th-minute penalty, de­spite beat­ing Willy Ca­ballero, was cor­rectly ruled out af­ter City play­ers re­alised Mahrez had slipped while strik­ing the ball and in­ad­ver­tently made an il­le­gal dou­ble con­tact.

It was the se­cond lucky break for Pep Guardi­ola’s side whose open­ing goal, scored by David Silva af­ter 29 min­utes, in­censed Le­ices­ter play­ers be­cause Ra­heem Ster­ling ap­peared to be off­side when he swung a leg at the ball.

“The first goal was off­side,” Le­ices­ter goal­keeper Kasper Sch­me­ichel, who ar­gued he was dis­tracted by Ster­ling, told Sky Sports. “He (Ster­ling) was block­ing my view. He’s in the six-yard box and he is in­ter­fer­ing be­cause I can’t see ball.”

Le­ices­ter man­ager Craig Shake­speare said: “Once he makes the play of the ball, he be­comes ac­tive. It should have been off­side.”

Guardi­ola re­fused to be drawn on the mat­ter.

“I don't know if Ra­heem touched the ball,” he told Sky Sports. “The ref­eree’s never spo­ken about that. He’s in his of­fice, you can go and ask him.”

There was no doubt about City’s se­cond in the 36th minute. Leroy Sane was sent sprawl­ing in the area by Yo­han Be­nalouane and Gabriel Je­sus fired the re­sult­ing spot kick into the cor­ner.

Le­ices­ter were back in the match four min­utes be­fore half­time though when Shinji Okazaki smashed a sen­sa­tional vol­ley past Ca­ballero from Marc Al­brighton’s cross.

City, who sur­pris­ingly left top scorer Ser­gio Aguero on the bench, were not clin­i­cal enough in front of goal and Le­ices­ter be­came in­creas­ingly dan­ger­ous in the se­cond half.

Craig Shake­speare’s side looked set to equalise when Gael Clichy tripped Mahrez in the area and ref­eree Robert Madley had no hes­i­ta­tion in point­ing to the penalty spot.

But Mahrez’s scuffed ef­fort was cor­rectly ruled out as he kicked the ball against his stand­ing leg and past Ca­ballero.

“In golf, it is the same,” Guardi­ola said of the rule which worked in City’s favour to keep their top­four hopes firmly in their own hands. “When I saw the re­ac­tion from Willy, I un­der­stood im­me­di­ately that it was two touches.

“The ref­eree was so brave in mak­ing the de­ci­sion. I’ve seen that hap­pen be­fore, a long time ago! It’s not nor­mal to see some­thing like that, but it is what it is.

“We need one more game to be in the top four but it’s in our hands. West Brom will be tough but hope­fully we can be bet­ter than to­day. And we go to Wat­ford.”

Mean­while, Swansea struck a cru­cial blow in the fight for Pre­mier League sur­vival as goals from Fernando Llorente and Kyle Naughton clinched a 2-0 win at Sun­der­land.

Span­ish striker Llorente put Swansea ahead early on be­fore Kyle Naughton blasted his first goal for six years on the stroke of half-time.

Swansea’s third win in their last four games moved Paul Cle­ment’s 17th placed side four points clear of the rel­e­ga­tion zone as they bat­tle to stay above third bot­tom Hull.

The Welsh club’s sur­vival will be guar­an­teed if Hull lose their crunch clash at fel­low strug­glers Crys­tal Palace to­day. Agen­cies

AFP PIC

Le­ices­ter City’s Riyad Mahrez slips while tak­ing his penalty against Manchester City at the Eti­had Sta­dium yes­ter­day.

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