MANCHESTER CITY’S Champions League Final fate could rest in the hands of the referee who sent off Pep Guardiola the last time they met.
Spaniard Antonio Miguel Mateu Lahoz left Guardiola seething when he wrongly disallowed a Leroy Sane ‘goal’ that would have seen City only 3-2 down on aggregate to Liverpool at half-time in their quarter-final second leg at The Etihad in 2018.
Sane was ruled offside but TV pictures showed the ball had fallen to the German from a deliberate touch by Liverpool’s James Milner and therefore should have stood.
Guardiola, furious and incredulous on the touchline, launched into Lahoz as he made his way off the field at the interval.
That saw the City boss shown the red card and banished from the bench.
Guardiola insisted he had not insulted the referee and had been ‘polite and correct’, although he branded Lahoz, 44, ‘a special guy’ who ‘likes to be different’.
The City chief said afterwards: “In the right moment we miss the right decisions.
“The referee is a special guy, he likes to be different.
“Whenever people see the things, he will decide the opposite.”
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Uefa charged Guardiola for his conduct and he was given a one-match touchline ban with a further match ban suspended.
But that was the only occasion in four City matches refereed by Lahoz that the Etihad side have lost.
He was also in charge of wins over Napoli, Monaco and Dynamo Kiev.
Lahoz, fourth official at Liverpool’s 2019 Final win over Spurs, has only taken charge of two Chelsea matches.
Both of those were in Portugal, a 2-1 defeat for the Blues against Porto at the Estadio do Dragao that is likely to stage the Final and a 1-0 win at Sporting Lisbon.
Clement Turpin of France will take charge of Manchester United’s Europa League Final against Villarreal in Gdansk on May 26.
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