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Hughes fumes as controversial penalty causes City crash

SoccerNews in English Premier League 29 Sep 2008

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Manchester City manager Mark Hughes took out his frustrations on referee Steve Bennett after his side crashed to a 2-1 defeat at Wigan.

City's takeover by the billionaire-backed Abu Dhabi United Group has made Hughes's club arguably the richest in the world, but unfashionable Wigan and cut-price talisman Amr Zaki cut them down to size at the JJB Stadium on Sunday.

Zaki, a loan signing from El Zamalek, outshone Robinho and company as he hit the winner from the penalty spot after City defender Vincent Kompany had cancelled out Antonio Valencia's stunning opener.

But Hughes felt hard done by as Wilson Palacios was fortunate to win the decisive spot-kick when he tumbled in an exaggerated fashion after nicking the ball ahead of Javier Garrido.

“We are disappointed because we feel the referee has played an outcome in the result of the game,” Hughes said.

“There were a number of key decisions which we felt he got wrong and once Wigan got in front they were difficult to break down.

“The two goals we conceded today were an outstanding strike from their player for the first one and penalty which we felt was really harsh. Their player had looked to gain an advantage and dived theatrically.

“I thought initially maybe the referee had given it because he was in a poor position but he wasn't so he feels he was right to give that decision.”

Hughes also felt City should have had a penalty of their own just before half-time.

Richard Dunne fell under pressure from Emile Heskey from a City free-kick but Bennett waved away their appeals.

“Yes I think it was (a penalty). We tried to get an opinion on that decision but we were told it was a coming together of bodies and in the end he gave a free-kick for handball,” Hughes said.

“When you see it on the videos Richard Dunne was clearly impeded in the box and it should have been a penalty.”

Wigan boss Steve Bruce disagreed with his former Manchester United team-mate and felt that Bennett's decision was a correct one.

Bruce praised desire shown by his players who constantly chased City and put them under pressure when they were in possession.

“Sometimes you purr at what some of them produce and that is the case here,” he said. “Zaki is going to get the headlines and rightly so. But people like Lee Cattermole, Emile Heskey and Valencia were superb.

“When you analyse it from one to 11, although they are dodgy numbers these days, they produced a magnificent performance.

“Because of their appetite and their attitude and also their ability we deserved to win the game in my opinion – there was no fluke about it.”

It was Wigan who started brighter and their first sight of goal came from a short corner as Zaki's shot flashed over the crossbar. The hosts kept up the pressure and City fell behind in the 16th minute.

Olivier Kapo's free kick was hacked away to Valencia 30 yards from goal and the Ecuador winger took a touch before driving a superb swerving shot past Joe Hart.

Robinho had a glorious chance to equalise moments later when he ran onto Stephen Ireland's clever pass, but the former Real Madrid star shot wide.

City didn't have to wait long to draw level. In the 22nd minute, Palacios made a hash of clearing Elano's free-kick and Kompany was perfectly-placed to volley home from close-range.

When Palacios just beat Garrido to a through ball and made an exaggerated tumble under the Spanish defender's challenge, referee Steve Bennett had no hesitation in awarding a penalty.

City felt hard done by and Robinho and Kompany were both booked for dissent as they protested. Zaki rubbed salt into City's wounds as he sent Hart the wrong way from the spot to restore Wigan's lead and notch his sixth goal in eight appearances.

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