LONDON Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola was breathing a sigh of relief after a "brave" decision from referee Robert Madley earned his side a 2-1 win over Leicester City on Saturday.
David Silva's controversial goal and a penalty by Gabriel Jesus had put City in control, but Guardiola's side were clearly nervous after Shinji Okazaki's superb volley halved the deficit before halftime at the Etihad.
Leicester were the better side after the break and Riyad Mahrez had the chance to equalise from the penalty spot but his effort was ruled out for a bizarre double contact.
After the ball went into the net, City keeper Willy Caballero immediately indicated that Algerian Mahrez had inadvertently kicked the ball against his standing right foot while slipping on the turf, making the ball spin past the goalie.
Madley agreed and disallowed the goal.
"In golf, it is the same," Guardiola said of the rule which worked in City's favour to keep their top-four hopes firmly in their own hands. "When I saw the reaction from Willy, I understood immediately that it was two touches.
"The referee was so brave in making the decision. I've seen that happen before, a long time ago! It's not normal to see something like that, but it is what it is."
With two games remaining City are now favourites to finish third, having jumped above Liverpool.
They have 72 points to Liverpool's 70 with both sides having two games to play. Fifth-placed Arsenal have 66 with three games to play, beginning at Stoke later on Saturday.
Guardiola admitted his side had been edgy after the break.
"In the second half, we didn't know whether to attack or defend the result," he said.
"You don't want to concede another goal and then you're in the middle, whether to attack or defend is hard to decide -- I understand the dilemma and Leicester played well and gave a good performance in the second half."
Last season's champions Leicester managed only two away wins all season but have looked transformed under Craig Shakespeare who took over following the sacking of Claudio Ranieri.
Shakespeare said he was impressed with his side's response after trailing 2-0 after 36 minutes.
"To go 2-0 down, the response from us with a real quality goal (was excellent)," he said. "That goal will probably get lost with everything that happened during the game, but I thought it was one of real quality.
"It was important that we got that goal just before halftime because it raised spirits a bit, especially at halftime when I was talking to the players.
"You saw in the second half the spirit, the togetherness and also the quality that we had. We caused a very good side lots of problems."
(Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Toby Davis)