Pep Guardiola had no complaints over the use of VAR after refereeing controversy overshadowed Manchester City’s dramatic Champions League win at Schalke.
The Premier League champions were stunned as the unfancied German side turned the first leg of a last-16 tie City were expected to win comfortably around with two penalties late in the first half.
The first of them was awarded by VAR for a debatable handball against Nicolas Otamendi after a lengthy and farcical stoppage, after which it transpired the referee’s pitchside monitor was broken. He accepted a recommendation from the VAR that a clear and obvious mistake may have been made.
Nabil Bentaleb scored both spot-kicks, cancelling out Sergio Aguero’s opener, but late goals from Leroy Sane and Raheem Sterling saw City snatch a 3-2 win after Otamendi was sent off for a second bookable offence.
Guardiola said: “It’s a penalty. I’m a big fan of VAR. The second one is a penalty too – and also offside. The red card is a red card.
“VAR needs time, they will improve. The referee told me the machine was broken but I support the initiative. The referees need help and that is VAR’s intention.”
Guardiola was more forthcoming on what he thought the match said about his side and their credentials for winning the Champions League.
City, who are in contention for four trophies this season, are among the favourites for the competition but Guardiola questioned whether that was justified.
He said: “We gave away the goals and the red card. We’re not ready to fight for the Champions League.
“But the result is good. I know how difficult it is to play in Germany.
“To go away and score three goals is pleasing and so is the way we reacted with 10 men. We played incredibly well and I’m delighted but it’s not enough.
“We are a nice team to watch but I don’t know how far we’ll get.”
Schalke manager Domenico Tedesco felt his side, who are 14th in the Bundesliga and had been written off before the game, felt his side missed a chance to claim a famous victory.
He said: “We’re obviously very disappointed by the result. We deserved more.
“For one of the few times this season we had a bit of luck on our side. We knew we’d be pushed deep, but we were sloppy too often on the counter and conceding the goals we did late on was heartbreaking.
“We need to be more clever. Some of our misplaced passes were terrible, unforced errors. We can’t afford to keep doing that.”
Tedesco agreed the delay over the controversial VAR-awarded penalty was too long.
He said: “It was definitely too long for the decision to be made, but the captains were called to the referee who explained the situation and it was a technical problem. This can happen.”
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