Mancini defends Balotelli as Hart stopper denies Liverpool


MANCHESTER CITY manager Roberto Mancini defended controversial striker Mario Balotelli, whose red card sparked a period of late Liverpool pressure that nearly cost the Premier League leaders their unbeaten record.

Vincent Kompany put the visitors ahead in the 31st minute when he met David Silva’s corner with his shoulder, rather than his head, but the lead lasted just two minutes when the Belgian’s defensive partner Joleon Lescott deflected Charlie Adam’s shot past Joe Hart.

Balotelli was introduced midway through the second half but a madcap cameo lasted only 18 minutes. The Italian was booked first for a tug on Glen Johnson and was given his marching orders seven minutes from the end for striking Martin Skrtel with his arm.
Mancini said: “I think every time Mario does something many players provoke him. Mario should pay attention because he knows many players provoke him and this is not correct. Because of his red card we conceded a few chances from Liverpool.”

Indeed, City were ultimately indebted to Hart, who made a crucial late double save to deny Andy Carroll and Luis Suarez.