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Apr 20, 2010

Inter's Balotelli attacked over gesture to fans

Barcelona striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic said after his side's Champions League defeat that Inter defender Marco Materazzi attacked team-mate Mario Balotelli in the players' tunnel.

• Inter Milan 3-1 Barcelona
• Champions League Gallery
• Mourinho hails Inter, slams Barca

Ibrahimovic said that he saw what happened after Balotelli had thrown off his jersey in anger and gestured to the Inter fans after the final whistle.

"I saw that Materazzi was attacking him in the players' tunnel and I've never seen anything like it," Ibrahimovic told RAI. "If I were him, I'd have left Mario alone, but Materazzi was attacking him and I was stunned. If Materazzi had attacked me like that, I would've decked him in a second!

"Materazzi was causing all sorts of trouble and in the Barcelona locker room we were amazed, all talking about it. A player should be proud after a win, not chase down a 20-year-old to berate him."

Inter players and officials have rounded on Balotelli, who seemed to be angered by a less than warm welcome from the Inter fans when he was substituted on late in the match. Serie A bad boy Balotelli, who has never been a crowd favourite at Inter, volleyed wide in the dying minutes and received another round of jeers. The crowd treatment was no excuse for his behaviour, according to team-mates.

Captain Javier Zanetti said: ''(I am) disappointed that a celebration was ruined with something like this. If the fans whistle at him he's got to understand that it could depend on a lot of different things. We've always stood by him.''

The Daily Telegraph quoted Stankovic as saying: "He's like a child. I'm a father of three kids and we can't take him by the collar, too. He's suffered, but I've suffered too with the fans. He's reacted poorly, but he's still got time.''

Manager Jose Mourinho also had words for substitute Balotelli after the whistle.

"I have been at Inter since July 2008," he said. "If I try to remember all the times I've tried to educate a great talent, there are thousands and thousands. This is a Champions League semi-final, the second most important tie in club football, and something ugly happened."

Inter CEO Ernesto Paolillo says the club will definitely be taking action against the player over the gesture.

"Balotelli's gesture was terrible. Just terrible," he said. "It is something we are going to have to discuss. Will he be punished? Absolutely, yes."

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