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Pellegrini: Timing of penalty was key

A controversial afternoon at the Etihad Stadium ended in a second-successive defeat for Manuel Pellegrini’s side.

Spurs’ opening goal, a penalty awarded for handball against Raheem Sterling, was the major talking point after the game.

Many journalists and pundits agreed that it was a harsh decision and that was certainly how Pellegrini saw it in his post-match press conference.

The Chilean was also unhappy that referee Mark Clattenburg officiated the game as he had already taken charge of a heated clash between the two sides at White Hart Lane earlier this season.

“I think more important than my view of the penalty is that everyone saw what happened,” Pellegrini said.

“Unfortunately for us it’s the same referee as the defeat to Spurs away in the earlier round when two clear offside goals were given against us.

“I don’t want to just talk about decisions. We made a mistake for the second goal also but that moment when the referee gave the penalty was a very important moment as we were playing well and had control.

“I don’t think it’s a good decision to have the same referee for both rounds.”

City still trail leaders Leicester by six points following the defeat to Mauricio Pochettino’s Spurs.

Although the gap to Tottenham has increased, Manuel was quick to point out that there are still 36 points to fight for and that his team are still involved in the race for the title.

“Both the last two results were very bad,” Pellegrini declared.

“We had two games against teams fighting for the title - we never expected not to win any of six points.

“We must continue fighting. We must play for 36 more points. We have just 14 players because of injuries but it’s important to start working again tomorrow and to believe.

“The first problem is our team - we must improve a lot of things. All of the teams [challenging for the title] will lose points from now until the end. It’s very important to trust what you’re doing.

“I’m worried that we have just 14 players - it’s very hard to play so many games with so few. After that, we have to play better.”

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