City scores in 82nd, avoids late penalty in win at Everton

February 26, 2022 GMT
Manchester City's Joao Cancelo celebrates at the end of the English Premier League soccer match between Everton and Manchester City at Goodison Park in Liverpool, England, Saturday, Feb. 26, 2022. (AP Photo/Jon Super)
Manchester City's Joao Cancelo celebrates at the end of the English Premier League soccer match between Everton and Manchester City at Goodison Park in Liverpool, England, Saturday, Feb. 26, 2022. (AP Photo/Jon Super)
Manchester City's Joao Cancelo celebrates at the end of the English Premier League soccer match between Everton and Manchester City at Goodison Park in Liverpool, England, Saturday, Feb. 26, 2022. (AP Photo/Jon Super)
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Manchester City's Joao Cancelo celebrates at the end of the English Premier League soccer match between Everton and Manchester City at Goodison Park in Liverpool, England, Saturday, Feb. 26, 2022. (AP Photo/Jon Super)
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Manchester City's Joao Cancelo celebrates at the end of the English Premier League soccer match between Everton and Manchester City at Goodison Park in Liverpool, England, Saturday, Feb. 26, 2022. (AP Photo/Jon Super)

LIVERPOOL, England (AP) — It was a controversial VAR decision that will be celebrated in the blue half of Manchester and lamented by both halves of Merseyside.

Manchester City was protecting a 1-0 lead at Everton — following Phil Foden’s slightly fortunate 82nd-minute goal — when its holding midfielder Rodri appeared to give away a penalty in stoppage time when a spinning ball struck his outstretched right arm.

The on-field referee didn’t have a good enough view to see it and after a lengthy video review, it was adjudged that the ball struck Rodri high enough up his arm to not merit a penalty.

“I have a 3-year-old daughter at home who could tell you that was a penalty,” Everton manager Frank Lampard said.

“Even if the VAR says not sure, then go have a look. It is incompetence at best, if not that then someone needs to explain what it is.”

City held on for a victory that pushed the Premier League champions into a six-point lead over Liverpool, which was hoping for a favor by its neighbor.

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Everton nearly provided it.

Lampard’s side was successfully frustrating City, and even looking dangerous on the counterattack, only to concede an unfortunate goal that saw a cross by Bernardo Silva take two deflections — off Mason Holgate then Michael Keane — on its way to reaching Foden right in front of goal.

The England attacker took a touch and guided a close-range finish past a flat-footed Jordan Pickford.

Foden said “my heart was in my mouth” as he waited for the decision on the handball.

“I was just praying, fingers crossed it was not a penalty,” he said.

There were emotional scenes before kickoff as City’s Oleksandr Zinchenko and Everton’s Vitaliy Mykolenko, two Ukraine internationals, walked toward each other during the warmups and embraced. They were then brought to tears as “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother” by The Hollies was played inside Goodison Park as teammates lined up for a match wearing tops displaying the Ukraine flag and the message: “No War.”

It was one of a number of touching scenes on a day marked by messages of solidarity across the country from players and fans toward those in — and from — Ukraine following Russia’s invasion.

“Thank you so much for all the people at Goodison Park,” City manager Pep Guardiola said. “It was so emotional. It is not a nice moment for Zinchenko and the Ukrainian people right now. The people from Goodison Park were amazing for this.”

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