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Man City's Manuel Pellegrini criticises referee after second defeat to Spurs

MANCHESTER -- Manuel Pellegrini questioned the decision to allow Mark Clattenburg to referee a match between his Manchester City side and Tottenham Hotspur for a second time this season after Spurs beat City 2-1 at the Etihad on Sunday.

Tottenham moved within two points of leaders Leicester while Man City remain six points off the top.

But Pellegrini felt the game changed when Clattenburg awarded a controversial penalty in the 53rd minute for a handball against Raheem Sterling.

Clattenburg officiated when the two clubs met at White Hart Lane earlier in the season when Spurs won 4-1 but Pellegrini felt they scored two offside goals.

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Tottenham HotspurTottenham Hotspur
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Asked about Sunday's penalty decision, the City boss told a news conference: "More important of my view is the view everyone saw. Unfortunately for us it was the same referee, Clattenburg, as we lost against Tottenham in the first round with two goals offside. It was decisive for the game.

"For me I don't think it is a good decision to have the same referee."

Asked why he approached the fourth official after the game, Pellegrini said: "Just to congratulate the referee -- about the decision."

The result means City have taken just one point from top-four rivals Leicester, Tottenham and Arsenal and have failed to beat anyone from the top six.

Asked why City's form against the big teams was so poor, Pellegrini added: "I think they are better teams. We cannot beat them but we will see at the end of the season which is the best team."

Spurs' boss Mauricio Pochettino would not be drawn on the penalty decision but he insisted the victory will be a huge confidence boost for his players.

Harry Kane
Harry Kane was awarded a penalty after Raheem Sterling was adjudged to have handled the ball.

His side have now won their last seven games and have closed the gap at the top to just two points after Leicester's defeat at Arsenal.

He said: "Before the game all the people [were saying] it was a big test for us. It is important to tell you that we are the youngest squad in the Premier League and it is important this type of game and the experience they put themselves inside.

"It is important to start to feel that you can feel in a stadium like Manchester City against a big big team and you can win. It is a very important team for the future."

The Argentine boss praised the impact of Erik Lamela, who came on as an 81st minute substitute to set up the winning goal for Christian Eriksen.

Pochettino added: "It was fantastic. Lamela adds a lot of energy to the pitch and it was fantastic the action.

"Always in football if the result is positive it is good, if the result is negative you made a mistake but we must be calm."

Jonathan is ESPN FC's Manchester City correspondent. Follow him @jonnysmiffy.

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