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Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola critical of referee after Champions League exit to Liverpool

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PEP GUARDIOLA felt Manchester City were on the wrong end of some poor refereeing decisions after bowing out of the Champions League at the hands of Liverpool.

The City manager was sent to the stands for protesting to referee Antonio Mateu Lahoz as City were beaten 2-1 at the Etihad Stadium on Tuesday to lose their quarter-final tie 5-1 on aggregate.

City made a superb start to the second leg, scoring early through Gabriel Jesus, but Leroy Sane had another goal incorrectly disallowed for offside after the ball was inadverently played to him by Liverpool’s James Milner.

With Guardiola also believing Raheem Sterling should have had a penalty following a challenge by Andy Robertson, he complained at half-time and was punished by Lahoz.

“I said he was wrong,” said Guardiola when asked about his dismissal. “I didn’t insult him. I just said it was a penalty and it was a goal.

“The ball (for Sane) came from (James) Milner. He said, ‘From Milner it came?’. ‘Yes, from Milner’.

“When it comes from Milner it is not offside, and we go to half-time 2-0. Two-nil against that team is a little bit different.

“In these kind of games, in these competitions, the impact is so big. At Anfield the first goal from (Mohamed) Salah is offside. The goal from Gabriel Jesus in Anfield was a goal, not offside.”

Guardiola has had his run-ins with Lahoz before. The Spanish official angered Guardiola by not giving City a penalty a last-16 clash last season and he also gave Napoli two penalties at the Etihad Stadium earlier in this campaign.

“I know him from Spain,” Guardiola said. “I could imagine that.”

City were unable to maintain the intensity of their ferocious start after the break and goals from Salah and Roberto Firmino ended their challenge.

Guardiola had no complaints about the overall result and will now turn his attention to securing the Premier League title.

“I should say big congratulations to Liverpool for going through,” he said. “Hopefully they can defend English football in the semi-finals.

“They are a top team with a top manager and I would say they deserve to be in the final.

“But we made an outstanding 45 minutes, really good. A big congratulations to the players for this competition because it was so good.

“We will come back stronger next season. Now we have a mini Premier League for six games and we are going to try to close it.”

City’s Bernardo Silva, who hit the post during the first half, weighed into the refereeing debate by suggesting the Champions League should adopt the VAR system next season.

The Portuguese posted on Instagram: “Thank you all for the support and amazing atmosphere tonight! We gave everything we could so no regrets. Next year we’ll be back to try again! Congratulations to @liverpoolfc and good luck on the semi finals. Now let’s go win the premier league and end the season with a title @mancity.

“Ps: @championsleague could you guys start using the VAR next season? It might be useful.”