Football

Guardiola issues plea to referees to protect players

Man City boss issues plea after Cardiff player injures Sane during horror tackle

Pep Guardiola has called upon referees to provide greater protection for players after Leroy Sane was injured during Manchester City's 2-0 FA Cup win away to Cardiff yesterday morning (Singapore time).

First-half goals from Kevin de Bruyne and Raheem Sterling ensured English Premier League leaders Man City stayed on course for the "quadruple" as they reached the last 16 of the FA Cup.

But some of the shine of this latest victory was removed when Sane failed to re-enter the field for the second half after a bad tackle by Joe Bennett left the Germany winger with an ankle injury.

Cardiff defender Bennett was sent off in the closing seconds for yet another poor tackle, on Man City substitute Brahim Diaz.

Said Man City manager Guardiola: "He (Sane) will be out for a while - minimum two weeks, three weeks, one month, we will see tomorrow exactly.

"I said many times the only thing they (referees) have to do is protect the players.

"I can accept our disallowed goal, I don't know why but I accept. But, please protect the players.

"Not the Man City players, all players...

"It happened once with Leroy, then it happened with Brahim again at the end.

"So, for the football in general, and for the players who are the artists, they must do that. That's why we are all here."

Guardiola saw his fears echoed by the German football federation for whom Sane will play a key role in the World Cup in Russia later this year.

"Hey, @CardiffCityFC. Just letting you know, we have a really important tournament in the summer. Please don't hurt our players. Thanks, #inSane," tweeted @DFB-Team-EN.

Man City are 12 points clear at the top of the EPL and face Arsenal in the League Cup final next month, when they also resume their Champions League campaign.

Neil Warnock, the manager of second-tier Cardiff, defended his side's approach by insisting Man City had been guilty of some poor challenges as well.

"They dished it out a bit, they had one or two naughty tackles," Warnock said.

"He (Guardiola) is in England, what do you expect?

"I suppose when you're like that, you want everything to be nice, pretty and perfect. But you don't get that here, you get different challenges.

"They're so quick, that's the problem, with the movement and everything else, you think you're there and all of a sudden, he's gone."

Warnock, however, did slam Bennett for a red card, which has ruled the fullback out of this Saturday's Championship trip to Leeds.

Calling the tackle "absolutely pathetic", Warnock added: "To do something like that I think is disrespectful to his teammates."

Bennett has since apologised to Sane for his horror challenge. - AFP

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