EPL

Ref made ‘very bad’ decision but we should have killed game – Bernardo Silva

By Sports Desk December 04, 2023

Bernardo Silva feels Manchester City suffered a “very, very bad” decision against Tottenham but admits the team also need to do their own job better.

City’s players, and particularly Erling Haaland, reacted furiously when they were denied the chance to play advantage in the closing moments of a thrilling 3-3 draw on Sunday after the Norwegian striker had been fouled.

Haaland had shrugged off the challenge from Emerson Royal to play Jack Grealish through on goal, but referee Simon Hooper pulled play back to award the hosts at the Etihad Stadium a free-kick.

Haaland continued to voice his anger as he left the field after the final whistle and he later went even further by posting a remark criticising Hooper on social media.

Team-mate Silva was less emotional in his verdict.

“It is a bad decision and everyone saw it,” said the Portuguese midfielder. “But at the end we are all humans.

“The referee probably is the first one to know it was a very, very bad decision because he (Grealish) was one on one with the keeper and it could have given us the three points.

“It is a tough one to take, but in the end it is what it is, it’s football, and sometimes people make mistakes.”

City, however, also had themselves to blame after spurning a hatful of chances to claim what could have been a comfortable victory, with Haaland among the guilty parties.

City led 2-1 at the break thanks to a Phil Foden goal after Son Heung-min had scored at both ends in the opening nine minutes.

Jeremy Doku and Julian Alvarez also hit the woodwork in the first half, while Haaland missed an open goal after one of numerous Spurs errors.

Spurs recovered to level through Giovani Lo Celso, but it seemed Grealish had won it in the 81st minute, only for Dejan Kulusevski to equalise again in the 90th minute.

It was City’s third successive draw and saw them slip to third in the Premier League.

Silva said: “We have been conceding late goals against Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and now Tottenham.

“At the end it is seven points. We could be four points ahead on top of the league if we did our job properly, which is kill the game, or at least don’t concede in the last minute. At this level those little details matter.

“We need to demand more from ourselves, each one of us.”

Spurs’ late equaliser ended their run of three successive defeats.

Kulusevski, who powered in the crucial goal off his shoulder, revealed the visitors’ stronger second-half showing came after some stern words from manager Ange Postecoglou during the break.

The Sweden international told the club’s website: “The coach was very angry at half-time. It was the first time I have seen him like that but he did the right thing.

“What we did was special in the second half. It is an unbelievable feeling. These moments in life are small. We have to enjoy them and just be thankful and be proud of the team.”

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    Alex Iwobi struck in the seventh minute of stoppage time as the Cottagers killed off a late United fightback to snatch a last-gasp 2-1 victory in the Premier League on Saturday.

    Fulham had been course for what seemed a deserved success courtesy of Bassey’s opener but United produced a strong finish and Harry Maguire appeared to have salvaged a point for the hosts in the 89th minute.

    Yet while United pushed for a late clincher themselves, they were caught on the counter-attack and Iwobi capitalised to secure his side’s first win at Old Trafford since 2003.

    “I don’t think you can just come here and overrun them,” said defender Bassey, whose goal was his first for the club. “You can see the quality of the players they have.

    “They have got top players and a top manager and players that can have an effect off the bench, but we were just at it more and I felt we wanted it more. That showed in the way we played.

    “(The equaliser) was a bit annoying, but we had done so well to even get 1-1, so then it was about making sure we didn’t leave with nothing. But then we got a chance and we were able to bury it.”

    Mid-table Fulham’s victory was only their second in their last six games in what has been an inconsistent season but Bassey hopes a corner has been turned.

    “It is always nice to win a game and hopefully we can keep this momentum going,” the Nigeria international said.

    The result put an end to United’s four-game winning run in the league and dented their hopes of reaching the top four.

    Maguire feels the team need to get it out of their system quickly ahead of Wednesday’s FA Cup trip to Nottingham Forest and then the derby against Manchester City next weekend.

    The England centre-back told MUTV: “We know it’s going to be a tough game in midweek. Our full focus is on that one. We’ve got to bounce back.

    “A big reaction is needed. It’s going to be a tough game, but one that we got to go there and produce a performance like we did there last year.”

    Maguire admitted United were caught out in the end by Fulham but said pushing for the win seemed the right approach at the time.

    He said: “This season we’ve scored numerous late goals, numerous late winners. So we had great belief that we were going to go on to win the game.

    “Obviously in hindsight now we can all sit here and say that we should have been more cautious, we were far too naive.

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  • Pep Guardiola still expects more from outstanding Phil Foden Pep Guardiola still expects more from outstanding Phil Foden

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    Foden’s latest decisive effort made it 15 wins from 17 matches for City who remain in the hunt to achieve another treble after last season’s Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League triumphs.

    Next up for Guardiola’s side is a trip to Luton on Tuesday for an FA Cup fifth-round tie, which is the final fixture of a busy February where they have juggled three competitions.

    City’s schedule shows no sign of easing though with league encounters to come against Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal in March.

    Guardiola added: “We are tired, but we recover. We’ll sleep good, we’ll eat good and we will be ready for Luton. We want to go through. I know it’s very difficult but it is what it is.

    “We played Champions League and all the teams have a long week in the Champions League because the schedule is there. (Then) we played against Brentford and Brentford is dentist. Going to the dentist without anaesthetic.

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    “I see the schedule, (every) three days and after Tuesday to Sunday, then we have Champions League and then we have another one. United, then maybe I don’t know FA Cup or Brighton, then after Liverpool, Arsenal, Aston Villa. So, yeah still we are there.

    “One point behind after being champions for everything. That is good. I don’t know what is going to happen with my players after they win everything, how they would react? Oh my god. Better than is possible. Impossible, impossible.

    “Every year it’s tough, but I love that it is tough. Okay, we accept it. We accept the challenge, that’s for sure.

    “We accept the challenge to be good. I know Arsenal and Liverpool, what a team they (both) are.

    “And step by step, as much as we are there, we can arrive the last games being there and everything can happen.

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    Wilmslow-born Nicholl, who was capped 51 times by Northern Ireland and represented them at the 1982 World Cup finals in Spain, began his career at Burnley, but made more than 200 appearances for both Villa and the Saints.

    A dependable defender, he famously scored with a 40-yard piledriver as Villa lifted the 1977 League Cup with a 3-2 second replay victory over Everton which went to extra time at Old Trafford.

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    Shearer said on X: “RIP Chris Nicholl. You believed in me and gave me my chance. Thank you.”

    Le Tissier added: “The thoughts and prayers of my family go out to the family of my first manager Chris Nicholl, who has sadly passed away.

    “I’ll always be eternally grateful to Chris for having the faith in me as a 17 year old boy to give me my opportunity to prove I was good enough to be a professional footballer. Gone, but never forgotten #RIPChris.”

    Nicholl parted company with the Saints in May 1991 and spent three years out of the game before taking the hotseat at Walsall.

    The Saddlers said on X: “We are devastated to learn that former manager Chris Nicholl has passed away.

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    Nicholl was reunited with McMenemy during his spell in charge of Northern Ireland, serving as his assistant manager.

    A statement on the Irish FA’s X account said: “We are saddened to learn of the passing of Chris Nicholl. He played 51 times for us, including the 1982 World Cup in Spain.

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