Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini says the entire Etihad Stadium crowd could see John Stones’ challenge on Raheem Sterling was a penalty except referee Roger East.
City were held to a 0-0 draw by Everton on Wednesday and dropped valuable points in the Premier League title race despite dominating large spells of the game – East waving away appeals when Stones appeared to bring down Sterling in the final minute of injury time.
Moments earlier, Stones and Phil Jagielka tangled with Sergio Aguero on the edge of the area but Pellegrini was particularly unhappy at the lack of a penalty for the tackle on Sterling.
“Everyone in the stadium could see it, it was so near the referee and so clear,” the Chilean told reporters.
“Both Raheem’s legs were taken by Stones but if he doesn’t whistle we can’t say anything. I don’t want to continue talking about individual actions in a game.
“The referee must decide. I just give my views on the overall performance and that one decision. We did enough to win the game, especially in the second half.
“Maybe it was a close game in the first half with few chances but in the second half, we dominated possession and shots – I think we did enough to win. We deserved more than a draw.”
With City pressing for a winner at the Etihad for much of the second half, Pellegrini only introduced David Silva off the bench and chose to keep the likes of Kelechi Iheanacho, Aleksandar Kolarov and Fabian Delph out of the action.
But with City taking on Crystal Palace in the Premier League on Saturday before meeting Everton in the second leg of the League Cup semi-final next week, Pellegrini defended his lack of changes on a frustrating evening.
After leaders Arsenal drew with Liverpool and second-place Leicester City won at Tottenham, Pellegrini added: “We were playing so well, I didn’t think we needed another substitute to change the game.
“I changed David in as he has such good touch in the last metres of the field. We play again in 72 hours so it’s good to have some fresh players for Saturday.
“Maybe we improved in defending tonight but three or four weeks ago when we couldn’t keep clean sheets I said I would rather win games than keep clean sheets and draw.
“It’s two dropped points – not because we’re at home but because we had a lot of merits to win the game in a clear way.
“For different reasons we couldn’t score and of course if you drop two points here and others win away, it’s not a good day for us.
“But we have 17 games left – normally we score here. I can’t believe how many chances we had and how many saves their goalkeeper made.”
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