Pep Guardiola defends VAR despite controversial penalty calls

‘I support the initiative. The referees need help and that is VAR’s intention’

Manchester City’s players argue with the referee after he gave the first penalty to Schalke following VAR deliberation. Photograph: Getty Images

Manchester City’s players argue with the referee after he gave the first penalty to Schalke following VAR deliberation. Photograph: Getty Images

 

Pep Guardiola said Manchester City are not yet ready to “fight for the Champions League” after his team’s last-gasp win at Schalke in their last-16 opening leg on Wednesday.

City were heading for defeat with five minutes left but then Leroy Sané, a former Schalke player, struck a 25-yard free-kick to equalise before Raheem Sterling grabbed a late winner.

While City are firm favourites to progress, Guardiola was alarmed at sloppy play that allowed the home side to take the lead via two penalties from Nabil Bentaleb before half-time. He also pointed to Nicolás Otamendi’s sending-off towards the end.

“We’re not ready to fight for the Champions League,” he said. “We gave away the goals and the red card. They didn’t have a shot on target and scored twice. If they’d scored a third or fourth then maybe we’re out.

“We played incredibly well. I’m delighted but it’s not enough. We gifted the goals.Give me this result before and where do I sign? But every stage is more difficult.”

Bentaleb’s first penalty was awarded via VAR. Otamendi was adjudged to have handled Daniel Caligiuri’s shot, a decision that took around three minutes to take. The delay came because pitchside monitors for the referee, Carlos del Cerro Grande, did not work and so the verdict was finally taken by the studio-based officials.

While Schalke’s second penalty might also have been offside Guardiola had no complaints. “I trust VAR. I have arguments sometimes but not this time. They are both penalties,” he said. “VAR needs time, they will improve. The referee told me the machine was broken. I support the initiative. The referees need help and that is VAR’s intention.”

City’s fans can be lukewarm towards the competition yet given the manner of the win – which started with Sergio Agüero’s opener – Guardiola hopes they may now enjoy it more. “We need them in the competition. I remember at Bayern, these kind of games mean a lot to the fans,” he said. “We cannot do it without the fans.”

Guaridan services

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.