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Mancini: Reds 'provoked' Balotelli

Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini blamed Liverpool's players for getting striker Mario Balotelli sent off in the 1-1 draw at Anfield.

• Liverpool 1-1 Man City

Balotelli was dismissed 18 minutes after coming on as a second-half substitute for two bookable offences. Mancini had no argument with the first - for pulling back Glen Johnson - but was adamant the second for catching Martin Skrtel with an arm was unjustified.

"It is not correct, the [second] yellow card. I do not agree with this yellow card," said Mancini. "The referee didn't want to get a yellow card out, he did nothing for the yellow card.

"I think every time Mario does something many players provoke him. I think the referee gave a free-kick but didn't want to give a yellow card until all the Liverpool players complained. I watched the replay and for me it is nothing.

"This situation in the Premier League - there are a lot in every game; I don't think all are yellow cards. He moved his arm and Skrtel was like a young player and I don't think that was good.

"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."

City had taken the lead through Vincent Kompany's 31st-minute header but within two minutes Liverpool equalised when Charlie Adam's shot was deflected past Joe Hart by Joleon Lescott. After the break, the home side ramped up the pressure and City goalkeeper Joe Hart made a number of saves to extend his side's unbeaten start to the Premier League campaign.

"I am happy for the boys because in the last 10 minutes we conceded two or three chances and Joe saved an important point," added Mancini. "I think we played three days ago in Naples and there was a difference from us and Liverpool because they were fresh and we were not 100%.

"It was important to play a good game and put in a good performance and we tried to win but this ground is not easy because Liverpool are a strong team."


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