ROYLE BLASTS 'FICTIONAL' PENALTIES

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MANCHESTER CITY manager Joe Royle was left seething by two penalty decisions given against his side by referee Graham Poll in Sunday's 4-2 loss to Liverpool in the FA Cup.

Poll gave the first decision after slipping in the box as he caught up play, adjudging that Vladimir Smicer was brought down by City keeper Nicky Weaver - although television replays suggested there had been only a slight touch if any.

Weaver's foul in the sixth minute, which Smicer himself converted from the penalty spot was followed by Emile Heskey's impressive finish and they combined to give Liverpool a two goal lead they would not relinquish after just 12 minutes.

Royle said: "That was not a penalty. It was fiction and it changed the game. It was a ridiculous decision that we could have done without.

"If we had been level at half time, we would have been in with a chance but that really knocked us back.

"You simply cannot give Liverpool a goal start at Anfield. We didn't but they got one anyway."

Gerard Houllier, the Liverpool manager replied: "If the television suggests otherwise, perhaps we got lucky."