LONDON: 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 on Sunday.
First-half goals from Kevin De Bruyne and Raheem Sterling ensured Premier League leaders City stayed on a 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 take 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 City substitute Brahim Diaz.
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“He (Sane) will be out for a while — minimum two weeks, three weeks, one month, we will see tomorrow exactly,” said City manager Guardiola. “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. The only thing they can do is that — to protect the players — because it would not happen again.
He continued: “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.
City are 12 points clear at the top of the Premier League and face Arsenal in the League Cup final next month, when they also resume their Champions League campaign.
“There are no words to describe the pride I feel about my players and my team,” Guardiola said. “We have played many games and we do not have a big squad because of so many injuries and players with problems.”
Neil Warnock, the manager of second-tier Cardiff, defended his side’s approach by insisting City had been guilty of some poor challenges as well.
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“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 full-back out of next weekend’s Championship trip to Leeds.
“I was disappointed he got sent off at the end,” Warnock said. “Obviously he doesn’t want to go to Leeds, because it was an absolutely pathetic challenge when he is on a booking. To do something like that I think is disrespectful to his teammates.”