Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini felt Mario Mandzukic’s decisive goal might have been disallowed after his team suffered a 1-0 Champions League loss to Juventus on Wednesday.
City are already through to the last 16 but passed up the opportunity to seal top spot in Group D and a seeded place in the draw – a benefit now set to be enjoyed by the Italian champions thanks to Mandzukic’s 18th-minute strike.
The Croatia international striker tangled with Nicolas Otamendi leading up to the goal, the City centre-back tumbling to the floor as his man dispatched Alex Sandro’s pinpoint cross.
Speaking to BT Sport after the match, Pellegrini also lamented missed chances from his team after Fernandinho and Raheem Sterling passed up gilt-edged opportunities.
“We didn’t score the chances that we had,” Pellegrini said.
“They scored the first goal that is a very doubtful play against Otamendi.
“We missed clear chances at the beginning of the game – Fernandinho on the penalty spot.”
Pellegrini’s frustration was compounded by goalkeeper Joe Hart having his latest impressive European performance curtailed by an apparent hamstring injury.
The City boss confirmed it was too early to tell whether the England international was set for a lengthy spell on the sidelines but suggested his leg pain could be related to a back problem that has periodically troubled Hart over recent seasons.
“We’ll see, maybe he has a problem with his hamstring,” Pellegrini said. “It can be his back that produces that pain.
“At the moment it is impossible to know what he has so we will see tomorrow.”
City are now winless in three games since a dazzling victory at Sevilla clinched their place in the knockout stages but, as he continues to operate without injured key men such as Vincent Kompany, Pellegrini praised his team for a marked improvement on their 4-1 weekend thrashing against Liverpool.
“We had the personality to play the same way we do at home and I think that is very important in Europe, he added.
“We don’t have the team that we need but we need to wait until the last game because we can still win the group.
“With all the injuries we have I think this counts as a good performance.
“I am not happy about the score but I think we made a good game in the condition that we are in at this moment.”