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Erling erupts as ref controversy clouds Spurs clash

China Daily | Updated: 2023-12-05 09:37
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MANCHESTER, England — Pep Guardiola said it would be fun.

Manchester City's clash with Tottenham Hotspur definitely lived up to the pre-match hype after a thrilling 3-3 draw at Etihad Stadium on Sunday.

Not that Erling Haaland was too happy after referee Simon Hooper denied Jack Grealish the chance to score a stoppage-time winner for the defending Premier League champion.

The Norway international reacted furiously when the whistle was blown for an earlier foul on him just as Grealish looked set to run through on goal. Haaland was booked for his response.

"He's a little bit disappointed," City manager Guardiola said afterward. "Even the referee — if he played for Man City today, he would be disappointed for that action, that's for sure."

Haaland had been taken down by Spurs defender Emerson Royal as City went in search of a winner after Dejan Kulusevski's 90th-minute equalizer. But as the forward regained his feet, Hooper appeared to gesture for play to carry on, with Haaland releasing Grealish with a pass.

It was then that the official blew his whistle, much to the anger of the home fans and City's players.

Haaland went on to express his frustration at what had happened in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter, when responding to a video of the incident.

Guardiola was asked to comment on the referee's decision in his post-match news conference and was more careful with his response.

"I don't want to criticize him (the referee)," Guardiola said. "On the touchline sometimes I lose my mind and my gestures are not proper ...But I would say we didn't draw for that (reason)."

City had twice been ahead in the match and looked to have scored a winner when Grealish came off the bench to make it 3-2 in the 81st.

Kulusevski's header earned Tottenham a point and consigned City to a third straight draw in the league, leaving Guardiola's team three points off leader Arsenal in third. Liverpool is a point ahead of City in second place.

Son Heung-min had put Tottenham ahead in the sixth minute, but put through his own net three minutes later. Phil Foden struck in the 31st to make it 2-1 for City. Giovani Lo Celso equalized in the 69th before strikes from Grealish and Kulusevski.

City's recent winless run in the league has seen the reigning champion concede eight goals in three games, following a 4-4 draw with Chelsea and 1-1 against Liverpool.

"Football is about mistakes sometimes, but still we are there," Guardiola said. "After many years we still have the feeling that we want it (the title)."

Spurs halted a three-game losing run, which had seen them drop from first to sixth in the standings.

"We weren't at our usual standard in the first half — City could have blown us away during that period, "Spurs manager Ange Postecoglou said. "They missed a few chances, a lot like us last week to be honest.

"We hung in there and the second half was a lot better. We had more belief and conviction and we made it more uncomfortable for them. Massive effort from the players, it would have been very easy to get blown away, but I thought they showed great character."

Reds' roller-coaster

Liverpool hasn't lost at Anfield since being routed 5-2 by Real Madrid in the Champions League in February. But a run that now stretches to 19 games looked on the verge of being broken when Bobby De Cordova-Reid put Fulham 3-2 ahead in the 80th minute.

The visitor twice came from behind and De Cordova-Reid's goal looked like ending the Reds' 100 percent home record this season.

That was until goals from Wataru Endo and Trent Alexander-Arnold in the 87th and 88th minutes completed a dramatic 4-3 win for Jurgen Klopp's team. Victory moved Liverpool to within two points of leader Arsenal and maintained its proud home record.

Blues bounce back

Chelsea didn't spend a British record of more than $130 million on Enzo Fernandez for his scoring prowess. But the Argentine struck twice to secure a 3-2 win against Brighton as the Blues put the 4-1 rout at Newcastle behind them.

Fernandez scored his first Premier League goal to put Chelsea ahead in the 17th and converted from the penalty spot for what turned out to be the winner.

Chelsea had to show resolve after going down to 10 men just before halftime when Conor Gallagher was sent off. Brighton threatened a comeback with a goal from Joao Pedro in stoppage time to make it 3-2 and then had a penalty overturned on video review.

Agencies via Xinhua

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