Kevin De Bruyne admitted he was confused by the handball rules after Manchester City were denied a dramatic late winner against Tottenham by VAR.
The Premier League champions thought they had snatched a 3-2 victory in injury time at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday but Gabriel Jesus’ strike was disallowed on review for a handball by Aymeric Laporte.
Replays showed the ball had brushed off the top of the City defender’s arm as a cross came in, which under new interpretations has to be penalised – regardless of whether the handball was deliberate or not – because it led to a goal.
The fact this was only spotted by VAR sometime after the offence – referee Michael Oliver had missed it – exacerbated the sense of frustration.
De Bruyne does not feel the rule is consistent because had the ball hit a Tottenham player’s arm in the same manner instead of Laporte’s, play would have been allowed to continue.
— Premier League (@premierleague) August 17, 2019
“It is what it is,” the Belgian said of VAR.
If they want to make football better they should have it.
But I think the only thing – the rules should be clear. If the ball had touched somebody of Tottenham’s arm it’s not a penalty, but if it touched our arm it is not allowed.
It should go both ways in something like that. I don’t understand that as a player. It makes it really confusing.
The incident meant City had to settle for a 2-2 draw from a game they completely dominated, racking up 30 shots to Spurs’ three.
De Bruyne set up goals for Raheem Sterling and Sergio Aguero but the visitors responded through Erik Lamela and Lucas Moura.
That ended City’s run of 15 successive Premier League wins but De Bruyne was not too downhearted.
Erik Lamela was on the scoresheet for Tottenham (Martin Rickett/PA)
“Obviously we’re disappointed about the result but not about the way we played,” said the 28-year-old.
“We played really well and deserved to win but it happens. We have to look forward. The way we played was really good and to get to this level so early in the season is good.
“We should have scored one more, we had enough opportunities to score.
“That really doesn’t bother me because to create them is even more difficult and I know on another day we can score more goals.”
The other main talking point from the game saw City boss Pep Guardiola have angry words with Aguero after substituting the striker in the 66th minute but the pair were later seen hugging. Guardiola said the incident was a misunderstanding.
Spurs were happy to leave Manchester with a point after again benefitting from VAR at the Etihad. The scenes at the end were reminiscent of the Champions League clash between the sides at the same venue last season, when Spurs also came out on top.
Lamela said: “It was the referee’s decision. I haven’t seen the video but we need to accept the result of the game.
“The rules are this season it will be like this. It was the right decision that decided the goal.
“We can play better than this, we know that, but we got a good point. At the end of the season this point can be important.”