Defender Kyle Walker praises referee Michael Oliver after Liverpool draw

Manchester City defender Kyle Walker has commended referee Michael Oliver for his composed handling of Sunday’s tense encounter against Liverpool, particularly amidst a controversial penalty decision in the dying moments of the match.

In a dramatic finale at Anfield, Jeremy Doku’s challenge on Alexis Mac Allister sparked heated debate over whether it warranted a penalty. Despite calls from Mac Allister and Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp, both Oliver and the video assistant referee ultimately deemed the incident non-penalty-worthy.

Speaking to Sky Sports after the match, Walker lauded Oliver’s poise under pressure, highlighting his refusal to succumb to external influences, including the fervent Anfield crowd. The defender emphasized Oliver’s experience and character, affirming his status as one of the premier referees in both the country and the world.

Liverpool midfielder Mac Allister, who had earlier converted a penalty to equalize for his side, acknowledged Oliver’s overall performance while suggesting a differing opinion on the last-minute decision.

Addressing the controversial incident, Walker refrained from offering a definitive stance, recognizing the divisive nature of such calls. He deferred to the VAR and Oliver’s judgment, indicating his reluctance to fuel further controversy.

Former Premier League referee Keith Hackett echoed sentiments of many observers, labeling the challenge as a “nailed on” penalty. Hackett expressed bewilderment over Oliver’s decision, emphasizing the gravity of the foul and its potential implications.

Despite the contentious finale, Sunday’s draw leaves the Premier League title race finely poised, with Liverpool trailing leaders Arsenal by goal difference and Manchester City one point behind. Walker remained pragmatic about the challenges ahead, acknowledging the unpredictability of the Premier League and expressing confidence in Manchester City’s pursuit of an unprecedented fourth consecutive league title.

Reflecting on Liverpool’s spirited performance, former Premier League striker Chris Sutton noted a potential shift in teams’ approaches against Manchester City. Sutton highlighted Liverpool’s aggressive tactics in disrupting City’s rhythm, suggesting that other teams may adopt similar strategies moving forward.

England and Manchester City defender Steph Houghton echoed Sutton’s sentiments, applauding Liverpool’s relentless pressure on City and noting the rarity of seeing the defending champions unsettled. Despite the challenges posed by Liverpool, Houghton emphasized City’s experience and resilience in navigating through demanding periods of the season.

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