Manchester City will be left wondering what could have been tonight as Liverpool progressed to the Champions League semi-finals after coming from behind to win at The Etihad and secure a 5-1 aggregate win.
Trailing 3-0 from the first leg, City’s Gabriel Jesus scored in the opening two minutes before Leroy Sane had a goal disallowed for offside despite James Milner getting the last touch.
Mohamed Salah equalised after the break before Roberto Firmino hit the winner with thirteen minutes to spare.
However much discussion will follow the game after the controversial decision to disallow Leroy Sane’s goal which would have put the hosts 2-0 up. City manager Pep Guardiola was forced to watch the whole of the second half from the stand after being sent off by Spanish referee Antonio Mateu Lahoz at the end of a controversial first half.
Guy Beale provided live text commentary during the game and provided this full-time summary:
The story of this game from the officials perspective starts and ends with a big mistake in chalking off a goal for Manchester City for offside which was wrong in law at the end of the first half.
The referee as leader of the team will take the major criticism, but he was let down badly by AR1: Pau Cebrián Devís (Technical Area), and the Additional Assistant Referee behind the Manchester City goal-line.
I can relate to the AR raising his flag, but that should have been the beginning of the process and between them the officials should have communicated and put all the pieces of the jigsaw together and come to the correct decision that when the Liverpool goalkeeper punches the ball clear, a new phase of play begins. So when the ball hits James Milner and rebounds back in, Leroy Sane is in an offside position (because there is only one defender between himself and the goal-line) but as the ball hasn’t been played to him by a team-mate, he has not committed an offside offence.
In the interests of completeness, I actually found very little about the rest of referee Antonio Mateu Lahoz’s performance to criticise tonight. OK, he was not in the same league as Felix Brych in the first leg, but he was consistent and did his best to let the game flow, whilst always stepping in at the first signs of reckless play of blatant dissent. But none of that will be any consolation to the team or officials when they tuck into their dinner this evening, trust me, it will be very quiet around the table as they all reflect on what could have been.