Aymeric Laporte grateful to have Rio Ferdinand in his corner after City slump
"It's got to be."
Rio Ferdinand believes Manchester City should have been given a free when Moussa Dembélé trod on the back of his foot when chasing after a through-ball.
In the context of the Champions League quarter final between City and Lyon, on Saturday, the decision to allow Dembélé's first goal to stand was huge.
City had equalised, 10 minutes prior, and should have led after Gabriel Jesus fluffed a golden scoring opportunity. Pep Guardiola's side was on top but, not for the first time in the match [or season], the high line of their defence was exposed.
Dembélé looked to have got the jump on Laporte, who fell to the ground, and he finished past Ederson despite the Brazilian getting a piece of his side-footed effort on goal. There was a VAR check but the goal was deemed good.
City missed a glorious chance to equalise, through Raheem Sterling, and Dembélé sealed the tie with minutes to go when he made it 3-1. Lyon advanced to a semi-final date with Bayern Munich while City were left ruing another quarter final exit from Europe.
Following the game, former Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand expressed a degree of sympathy with Laporte, and City. The BT Sport pundit commented:
"If I'm on that pitch, it's got to be. I believe it's a definite foul. Dembélé has connected and he's the one who went on to score. City were dominating at that time.
"There is 100 per cent contact. I don't understand how they can't call that? People will be saying conspiracy theories now if you're a City fan.
"I believe that's a foul and it's the man who goes on to score the goal."
Laporte was sent a clip of those Ferdinan comments last night and felt compelled to go onto his Twitter account to keep the spotlight on that crucial VAR call:
— Aymeric Laporte (@Laporte) August 15, 2020
The French defender followed that up by wishing Lyon all the best for the remainder of the competition and holding his hand up for the performance itself.
'Just to be clear,' he wrote, 'I will not hide. I'm a football player but a man foremost, we all made mistakes in this game, and I also take my responsibility for the bad team performance tonight. But this decision is hard to accept, especially in a crucial qualifier AND with the help of VAR.'
Guardiola himself refused to dwell on the VAR calls that did not go in his side's favour. "It is what it is," he mused.
"One day we will break the gap to the semi-finals... This competition, you have to be perfect. The first goal, we have to solve it better. We created more chances. I haven't seen stats - we did everything but score."