Mancini: Champions League dream is over, thanks to ref

MANCHESTER CITY 2 vs AJAX 2

MANCHESTER City manager Roberto Mancini accused referee Peter Rasmussen of denying them a dramatic late victory over Ajax after last night’s draw left them on the brink of elimination from the Champions League.

The fiery Italian manager confronted the referee at the final whistle to complain about the decision to not award a late penalty for what he saw as a foul on Mario Balotelli – and for the offside call that meant that what would have been Sergio Aguero’s winning goal was instead disallowed.

“The referee and the linesman were really poor. It was a penalty, and it was a goal,” said Mancini, after goals from Yaya Toure and Aguero had brought City level following the concession of two goals to Siem de Jong in the first 17 minutes. “I told [Rasmussen] it was a goal and not offside.”

Of their fading qualification hopes, he added: “It’s finished. I always believe in my team but now I think it is very difficult.”

Ajax captain De Jong had skilfully improvised to give his side a 10th-minute lead when City’s static defence left the diving Joe Hart exposed for him to fire over the goalkeeper from a tight angle, and an impressive near-post header followed seven minutes later when he was left unmarked at a corner.

Yaya Toure superbly volleyed his side back into contention just five minutes later before Aguero’s placed equaliser – almost 15 minutes from time – into the bottom left corner from Edin Dzeko’s knockdown.