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Dublin: 10 °C Monday 21 October, 2019

Guardiola says sorry to Gabriel Jesus for stopping him taking penalty

The Manchester City boss concedes that it was his decision to put Riyad Mahrez on spot-kick duty at Anfield.

 Gabriel Jesus (left) and manager Pep Guardiola (file pic).
Gabriel Jesus (left) and manager Pep Guardiola (file pic).
Image: Nick Potts

PEP GUARDIOLA IS prepared to shoulder the blame for the penalty call which cost Manchester City at Liverpool, with it his decision to hand spot-kick duties to Riyad Mahrez over Gabriel Jesus.

The reigning Premier League champions were presented with an opportunity to put down a marker in the 2018-19 title race late on at Anfield on Sunday.

Virgil van Dijk tripped Leroy Sane inside the box five minutes from the end of a heavyweight encounter between two sides setting their sights on the top-flight crown.

Jesus was first to express an interest in stepping up from 12 yards, with Sergio Aguero on the bench after being replaced, but Mahrez got the nod and blazed high over the top.

Guardiola has apologised for making that decision, telling reporters after a 0-0 draw: “During the training sessions every day I see Mahrez taking the penalties and it gave me a lot of confidence. It will be good experience for him, next time it will go in.

Jesus wanted to [take it]. I apologise. It was my decision.”

While left frustrated by one penalty call on Merseyside, Guardiola feels City should have been given more opportunities to convert from the spot.

The Catalan coach believes Dejan Lovren fouled Aguero during a keenly-contested first half, before Van Dijk went on to handle inside the area.

Guardiola added: “Normally for the last six, seven months the penalties were always Sergio’s but he was on the bench. He was on the pitch when the first penalty was not given.

Maybe we need two penalties to score one goal. I would not like to speak about the referees, about the decisions. We should talk about the game, the football.”

The stalemate at Anfield has kept City at the top of the Premier League table but there are now three sides locked on 20 points after eight games, with Chelsea having joined Liverpool in that pack.

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