Manchester City's Richards handles the ball to award a penalty to Liverpool during their English League Cup semi-final soccer match at Anfield in Liverpool
Manchester City's Micah Richards (R) handles the ball to award a penalty to Liverpool during their English League Cup semi-final soccer match at Anfield in Liverpool, northern England January 25, 2012. REUTERS

Manchester City defender Micah Richards has derided referee Phil Dowd's decision to award Liverpool a penalty in his side's Carling Cup semi-final loss at Anfield on Wednesday night.

Liverpool reached the Carling Cup final after a 2-2 draw saw them progress against City 3-2 on aggregate, but the aforementioned City defender believes Dowd made a "poor" decision in handing the Reds a controversial first-half penalty.

Richards was adjudged to have handled in the penalty area for Liverpool's opening goal, after Daniel Agger's close range shot ricocheted off the Manchester City defender's boot and into his outstretched arm.

However, replays suggest the decision to award a penalty was a harsh one, particularly as Richards' did not appear to intentionally make contact with his hand.

"I think the referee made a poor decision for the penalty," the Manchester City right-back is quoted in the Daily Mail.

"It struck my foot and has gone on to my hand. I don't know what he expects me to do with that. But it was a decision. I won't say it has cost us but it has clearly played a massive part.

"Everyone goes on about respecting referees but it is decisions like that that are sometimes costing us [Manchester City]. I give my full support to the referees but with those sort of decisions, unless you are 100% sure, you shouldn't really be giving them."

And former Premier League referee Graham Poll has backed Richards' comments, saying Liverpool were incredibly fortunate to be given the spot-kick.

Poll believes Dowd "made two errors" in the penalty award suggesting Liverpool should not have been afforded the opportunity to level the scores on the night, which Steven Gerrard duly did.

"Phil Dowd made two errors in awarding Liverpool a penalty after the ball hit Micah Richards' arm." Poll told the Daily Mail while discussing the penalty award.

"Firstly, with Richards two yards away from the ball as it was struck and his arms in a natural position, the handball had to be accidental. On top of that, the ball hit his arm after being deflected off his foot.

"Dowd's second error was to mime what he thought he saw. He put both arms above his head to indicate what the City defender had done wrong.

"When looking at replays, while one of Richards' arms is above his head, it is not the one that the ball struck after deflecting, so Dowd's perception - which he repeatedly made clear - did not match the fact. A handball must be deliberate to be given as a foul.

"Referees are told to consider the proximity of the offender to the opponent striking the ball, the speed the ball is travelling, whether the arms are in a natural position and if the player had a chance of getting out of the way. You can see why Manchester City were so upset."