Mahrez penalty mishap lets Guardiola’s side off the hook
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
Leicester City’s Riyad Mahrez slips while taking his penalty against Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium yesterday.