City thoroughly outplayed Spurs throughout the game and thought they had won it in injury time as Gabriel Jesus curled in a close-range finish after a scramble in the penalty area following a corner.
But the goal was eventually disallowed after Aymeric Laporte was shown to have handled in the build-up, leaving the game drawn at 2-2. Under the new rules, any handling in the lead-up to a goal means the goal cannot stand, whether it would be given as a handball in regular play or otherwise – but if the ball had also brushed a defender’s hand, a penalty would not have been given.
“They made this rule, it’s new,” De Bruyne told the Telegraph. “When I saw the video [of the incident], it’s impossible [for Laporte] to take his arm away. What can he do? Should he chop his arm off and play without it?
“There’s nothing he can do because Nico [Otamendi] is ten centimetres in front of him and trying to head the ball. You can’t react in that space and amount of time. So make it clear - handball both sides.”
While rival fans revelled in the drama on social media, City’s bewilderment was compounded by the realisation that the Spurs goal that put them out of last year’s Champions League would not have stood under the new rules.
Before City’s last-gasp ‘winner’ was shown to be offside by VAR, Fernando Llorente accidentally handled before scoring the vital away goal that eventually took Spurs through. It wasn’t enough to disallow the goal at the time, but would be if it happened in a game this season.
Pep Guardiola has expressed his exasperation at VAR’s perceived inconsistency, after record signing Rodri was floored inside the area in the first half. City were adamant it should have been a penalty, but the match referee didn’t look at the incident again.
The new handball rule, however, has been under closer scrutiny after this game and Bernardo Silva had similar thoughts to De Bruyne.
“It is never easy when you score a last-minute goal and it is disallowed, especially because last season we went out of the Champions League because of a situation exactly like this one but rules are rules and we have to accept it,” Silva said.
“It is true the ball hits his hand but come on, do you want to cut his arm [off]?”