Pep Guardiola praised “brave” referee Robert Madley for disallowing Riyad Mahrez’s penalty in Manchester City’s 2-1 victory over Leicester.
City dominated the first 40 minutes and led through David Silva’s 29th-minute opener and a penalty from Gabriel Jesus seven minutes later.
But a superb volley from Shinji Okazaki gave Leicester some momentum heading into the second half and they exploited City’s nerves to almost snatch a point.
When Gael Clichy felled Mahrez in the box and the playmaker converted from the spot, it looked like the Foxes had drawn level.
But Madley spotted that Mahrez had slipped, his left-footed shot hitting his standing leg on the way in, and it was ruled out.
Guardiola said: “The shot was a little bit strange and when I saw the reaction from (goalkeeper) Willy (Caballero) I understood immediately it was two touches and the referee was so brave to interpret the rule.”
Leicester boss Craig Shakespeare bemoaned his side’s luck and argued the penalty could have been retaken for encroachment by City players.
He said: “It is a freak penalty, a double touch. Clearly the letter of the law states it doesn’t stand. What I will say in terms of the letter of the law, an eagle-eyed official probably notices the encroachment of two Man City players but you don’t often get that these days.
“The disappointment of the double touch, maybe the encroachment happens first and he can pull it back but in real time it happens really quick.”
City went into the game knowing victories in all their three remaining games would guarantee third place and a spot in the Champions League group stages for next season.
Guardiola felt the pressure affected his players in the second half, although he argued they could have recovered even if Mahrez’s penalty had stood.
“Of course it was important but I am pretty sure at 2-2 we would have decided to attack more than we thought in the second half,” said the Spaniard.
“We make a good performance first half. We missed the chances to almost finish the game. After the 41st minute we conceded an exceptional goal.
“The second half we didn’t know whether to attack or defend the result. It sometimes happens. You have to understand how important this period is for us, for the future of the club, the players, for everybody.”
Leicester were also aggrieved that Silva’s opener was not disallowed after Raheem Sterling waved a leg at the ball from an offside position.
Shakespeare said: “To the letter of the law, as soon as he makes an attempt for the ball, which you can clearly see he does, it’s a clear offside decision.”
Leicester goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel was one of many Foxes players to protest the awarding of the goal.
He told Sky Sports: “Anybody who has played football, especially in goal, knows he’s offside. He’s blocking my view when the ball comes across him, he’s blocking Christian Fuchs’ view in making an attempt for the ball, so he’s offside.
“It’s one of these debates as players we’d love to get involved in but we’re not allowed to. That’s what makes it very frustrating that they (officials) aren’t willing to listen.
“No-one asks for the players’ opinions. They come in and they tell us the rules and they won’t listen to the fact it’s very different for a goalkeeper.”
Shakespeare, though, accepted an elbow from Fernandinho that left winger Marc Albrighton with a black eye was accidental.
Albrighton was clearly furious with the challenge and was substituted after picking up a yellow card for a wild tackle on Fernandinho later in the game.
Shakespeare said: “I have sympathy because he is in there with a real black eye and a bruised eye but we have looked at the replay and there is no intent from Fernandinho, if I’m honest.
“It is a competitive challenge, arms raised but there is no intent there to do Marc any damage and Marc understands that as well.”