Raheem Sterling was honoured to join the 100-goal club in the Premier League on Saturday, but Wolves head coach Bruno Lage hit out at the decision to award Manchester City the decisive penalty that took him to that mark.
City winger Sterling calmly converted past Jose Sa with 66 minutes of the game played at the Etihad Stadium as the reigning champions claimed a sixth league win in a row to remain top of the table.
However, Wolves were unhappy that the spot-kick was awarded by Jon Moss, who had earlier sent off striker Raul Jimenez for two bookable offences in the space of 31 seconds at the end of the first half.
Moss adjudged that Joao Moutinho blocked Bernardo Silva’s cross with his arm and stood by his decision after a lengthy VAR check, despite the ball appearing to hit the Wolves midfielder closer to the armpit.
“It’s not a penalty for me. That’s why it’s very strange, both the referee decision and the VAR decision,” Lage told BT Sport. “I protect VAR every time – it is good for modern football. He put his arm out, but where did it touch? Come on!”
Wolves were down to 10 men by that point after Jimenez was yellow carded for a challenge on Rodri and cautioned again almost straight after for failing to retreat when the free-kick was taken.
“He knows he cannot do that. I went into the dressing room and saw his face,” Lage said. “But the first yellow, he didn’t touch the man and we have 10 men behind the ball. So it is a very hard decision and cost us a lot.
“We feel if we had 11-v-11 we could do more. We move on.”
Sterling’s successful penalty saw him reach triple figures for goals in the Premier League – the England international becoming the 32nd player to do so, and the eighth-youngest at the age of 27 years and three days.
He was City’s most attacking threat against Wolves, registering a game-high three shots on target and scoring from one of those to make it five goals in his past eight appearances in all competitions.
“Reaching 100 goals is a lovely achievement,” Sterling told BT Sport. “There are some fantastic players in that list. I’m really honoured to be in it now.
“Every time we play Wolves at home it’s always a difficult one. They’re always a difficult side to break down. We knew we had to keep patient. They kept it tight, but we knew if we kept playing we’d get an opportunity – and we did.”
3 – Raheem Sterling is the third player to score his 100th Premier League goal in 2021, following Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mané – no other calendar year has seen more players reach the milestone (also three in 2008 and 2012). Club. https://t.co/YjtgRnKhoj
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 11, 2021
City have now won 32 of their 40 Premier League games in 2021, just one short of the all-time record for wins in a single calendar year in English top-flight history set by Liverpool in 1982.
While the Citizens were good value for their win, finishing with an expected goals (xG) return of 2.75 to Wolves’ 0.14, the visitors could easily have snatched a late point if not for Ederson’s crucial stop to deny Max Kilman.
That came from Wolves’ only attempt on target all match and took Ederson to 100 clean sheets for City in his 212th appearance for the club.
It ended a run of four games without a shutout for Ederson and boss Pep Guardiola praised the Brazil international after reaching the milestone.
“Congratulations to him. We conceded late goals against West Ham and Watford but finally he can achieve it,” Guardiola told BBC Sport.
“And that’s why we have Edi with his contributions in the right moment, a big save in the second half. We don’t concede many chances but what chances they have, he is there.”