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City players back penalty call criticism

Manchester City’s players joined their manager Manuel Pellegrini in criticising referee Jonas Eriksson for awarding Barcelona a penalty in their 2-0 win over the English club on Tuesday.

• Hunter: Patience rewarded
• Brewin: Demichelis disappoints
Mooney: City hopes dimmed

Pellegrini questioned the Swedish official’s integrity and said he should not have been given the game and argued City should have had a free kick for a challenge on Jesus Navas seconds before Martin Demichelis brought down Lionel Messi.

And like his manager, Fernandinho thought the challenge came outside the penalty area and felt that the incident, which brought a red card for Demichelis, was the turning point in the match.

The midfielder said: “Everyone saw the penalty wasn't. The foul was outside. He gave the penalty spot and that completely changed the result of the game.

“It is very disappointing, because the decision of the referee was very important for this game. It changed the result, it changed the performance of both teams. When we started the second half it was very balanced. Our team tried to keep possession of the ball but after that decision Barcelona, with 11 players and us with 10, completed everything.”

Fernandinho was encouraged by City’s performance, adding: “In the first 15 minutes they played better but after that we played our way and tried to score. We had some chances to score.”

Substitute Samir Nasri echoed the Brazilian in insisting Eriksson should have given Barcelona a free kick for Demichelis’ foul on Messi.

He said: “It was a close game and then the referee made a mistake. It was not a penalty, it was a free kick.”

And right-back Pablo Zabaleta concurred, saying: “I think it is a red card because Demichelis was the last man and it was a foul on Messi, but it is a free kick not a penalty. We should respect any decision but obviously in these kind of games one mistake makes a big difference.”


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