MANCHESTER City may have demolished their opponents, but it was Raheem Sterling’s embarrassing penalty which has set tongues wagging.
City took out their UEFA Champions League match against Shakhtar Donetsk 6-0 but fans were not happy with Sterling’s actions.
The England forward was played through by Fernandinho but then kicked the ground as he shaped to shoot and tumbled over inside the box.
To everyone’s shock, including Sterling, Hungarian referee Viktor Kassai pointed to the penalty spot, with Gabriel Jesus scoring his first of three goals in the game with the resulting penalty kick.
Optus Sport commentators Micky Bridges, Richard Bayliss and Sasa Ognenovski were incredulous the penalty was called.
“The goalkeeper’s reaction here is brilliant, he’s laughing because he can’t believe it’s been given,” Bridges said.
“You’d be embarrassed but you’re not going to turn it away.”
When asked if he should have corrected the clearly wrong referee, the former Leeds and Hull star said it had happened in the past but “Sterling’s got to be embarrassed that that’s been given.”
When asked after the match about the call, Shakhtar’s Portuguese coach Paulo Fonseca laughed it off.
“It is difficult to speak about a penalty after a result like that — but it’s ridiculous, that’s all I can say,” he said.
“Everyone saw it, but it is not because of the penalty we lost the game.”
Sterling was apologetic in the post match for his part in the ludicrous call.
“I’ve gone for a goal and mistimed the kick and it was a calamity,” Sterling said.
“Sorry on my behalf and sorry to the ref, I didn’t try to con him, I just made a mistake and kicked the floor.
“It’s one of those where I didn’t want to look like I was looking for a foul but I didn’t want to say anything, I just put my head down. It is what it is and apologies again.”
Putting his head down was the issue with fans on social media, who roasted the star for not trying to correct the call.
City coach Pep Guardiola admitted City knew it wasn’t a penalty.
“We realised it was not a penalty,” Guardiola said.
“He wanted to make a chip and touched the grass.
“We don’t like to score goals in that situation but he didn’t realise.”
“You know VAR and what it is — referees must be helped because they don’t want to make mistakes. They want to make a good performance but the game is quick and players are more skilled.
“It takes three or four seconds to make a decision — penalty or no penalty.”
Sky Sports commentator Craig Bellamy said UEFA should get rid of the extra official who stands behind the goal.
“What is the third official doing?” Bellamy said.
“They’re a waste of time, they offer nothing to the game, and that’s another indication, whether it’s UEFA or FIFA, stop wasting your money paying these guys to stand behind the goal because they’re offering you nothing.”
Sterling added a highlight to his lowlight in the second half, shrugging off two defenders and curling the ball into the top corner.
But a second penalty and two more late goals gave City a thumping win.
And after it all, at least the Shakhtar Donetsk could see the lighter side of the decision after a slip from hat-trick hero Gabriel Jesus in the penalty strike.
— with PA
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