Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho claimed his side were denied a “clear penalty” as they lost 2-1 to Manchester City.
Goals from David Silva and Nicolas Otamendi gave City a 14th straight Premier League win and increased their lead at the top to 11 points, but Mourinho felt his side should have been awarded a spot kick when Ander Hererra went down under a challenge from Otamendi.
Referee Michael Oliver booked Herrera for diving and left Mourinho with a distraction after his side were outplayed at Old Trafford.
“Clear penalty. I am sorry for us and sorry for Michael, I think he had a good performance but it was a clear penalty,” he told Sky Sports.
“The referee made a mistake, which can happen. Last season we had a similar situation here against Man City. We were winning 2-1 and Mr Clattenburg didn’t see the penalty — [Claudio] Bravo on [Wayne] Rooney — and this one also.
“I am sorry for Michael Oliver because he had a good performance. The referee had a good match but he made one mistake and his mistake was crucial to the outcome of the match.”
With United’s deficit now into double figures, City are clear favourites to lift the Premier League title in May.
He the added in his post-match news conference: “It is like last season. Exactly the same, you can speak about anything you want, you can bring any football theory, you can bring the stats, the ball possession, you can bring everything you want — but like last season it is a huge penalty in a crucial moment of the game.
“But I have also to say that I feel sorry for Michael Oliver because I think he had a good game, I would say very good game, assistants the same, I think they come with the intention to make the perfect work which they almost did.”
Mourinho was then asked if there is much between the two teams.
“Depends on how you analyise it,” he said. “Depends on what we want to let them do and what we didn’t want to let them do. I think when you see Manchester City play, you expect Manchester City to score great goals not to score two disgraceful goals.
“They are the last goals you expect to concede against a quality team like Manchester City, two very bad goals… with rebound and incredible lucky or unlucky depending on perspective. Yes they had much more of the ball, yes they had that apparent control of the game but the biggest save is the double save of their goalkeeper and the biggest decision of the game is the unlucky decision of Michael [Oliver].”
The United boss will not give up on the Premier League title despite the gap to the leaders now being 11 points.
“It is a significant distance,” he conceded. “I know we can win next Wednesday [at home to Bournemouth]. Win or lose or draw, I know that we can win next Wednesday. We can work and fight for it. That is the only thing I say.
“Match after match and every match we are going to give everything, with our qualities, with our problems, that is what we do all the time.”
Rob is ESPN FC’s Manchester United correspondent. Follow him on Twitter @RobDawsonESPN.