Pep Guardiola insists it is wrong to question the attitude of his Manchester City players after their late victory at Leicester City.
Sub Gabriel Jesus scored in the 80th minute at the King Power Stadium as Guardiola’s side strengthened their hold on second place in the Premier League, putting them seven points ahead of third-place Leicester.
Guardiola says nobody should be questioning his players, referencing their seven domestic cup wins out of eight (including the Community Shield).
“Don’t ask me about the attitude of these guys, if you still doubt what they have done, this group of players winning seven titles in the last eight competitions we’ve played in,” said the City boss.
“The way we’ve played and our personality, there’s no doubt about that – the reaction we had after missing the penalty against an incredibly good team.
“I’m so pleased for the victory and the way we played.”
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Pep: Laporte asked to be subbed
After returning from injury on Wednesday against West Ham, and spending the majority of the season on the sidelines with a knee problem, centre-back Aymeric Laporte endured a tough evening at the King Power Stadium.
He was substituted at half-time, and Guardiola revealed it was not due to injury, and that the Frenchman himself had asked to come off.
“He asked me to be substituted, but he is not injured. He did not feel. We cannot forget that four or five months injured, you have to run a lot with Jamie Vardy, Kelechi Iheanacho, Harvey Barnes – they are so fast. It was quite different against West Ham. But he is OK.”
Asked if Laporte can play 90 minutes against Real Madrid in City’s Champions League last-16 first leg tie on Wednesday, Guardiola said: “Yes.”
Guardiola also said Raheem Sterling can recover in time from a hamstring injury to play on Wednesday.
“I think so. He is getting better. This kind of injury is a little bit dangerous. He feels really well, but the doctor says two or three weeks.
“So we take a risk, in this game against Madrid, and in the second leg we want him to be able to play.”
Guardiola then joked: “Today we are 19 points off the title, maybe we have a little chance! I don’t know? No, we don’t have any chance to win the Premier League, so it’s better to take a risk when we have to do it. It’s important for us he is able because he is a special player for many reasons.”
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‘We will score next penalty’
Sergio Aguero’s penalty miss means City have now missed their last four spot kicks in the Premier League, and have only scored four of their 11 in all competitions this season. But Guardiola is adamant they will score their next penalty.
“Well, next time we will score! Of course it is a problem. We miss against Tottenham, Atalanta, but what I want, I told them, the next person to take a penalty be convinced he will score.
“It’s not normal for the quality we have, next one we are going to score, and the taker just be convinced, to say: I am going to score. That is what I said.”
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Rodgers: Definite penalty
Leicester felt they should have had a penalty in the first half when James Maddison’s free-kick hit the arm of Kevin De Bruyne, but the officials adjudged his hands to be too close to his body to be in an unnatural position.
Dennis Praet was then penalised in the second half for a similar incident, from which Aguero missed his penalty.
Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers could not understand why it was not awarded, while accepting the Praet handball decision was a fair one.
“It’s absolutely clear, so to not get that was disappointing,” said Rodgers. “I think it’s the consistencies we’re all looking for in the game. I think it was fairly clear.
“It’s actually one of the reasons VAR has been brought in. You put your hands up, it’s going towards the goal, towards the corner, and Kevin De Bruyne stops it, so for me it is a clear penalty. But we didn’t get it.
“Praet’s hand goes up, and it’s a penalty, because that’s the rule. We accept that. But you get it for you as well.
“We’ve had them a few times now, in the cup semi-final, and here today, where the hands are up, Kevin is blocking his face, which is a natural reaction. But his hands are up, all the other players have their hands down, and yet we still didn’t get it. So it’s tough on us.
“Both are unnatural. He’s lifted his arms up. If you look at the reaction of the other players in the wall, the hands are down, so you have to take it. It’s handball, and we didn’t get it.”
Rodgers also feels the PGMOL’s earlier admission that “human error” led to them not sending off Tottenham’s Giovani Lo Celso for a tackle on Cesar Azpilicueta in the 2-1 defeat to Chelsea is worrying, particularly in relation to the timing of the statement.
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