Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini has disputed the red card shown to striker Mario Balotelli.

The Italy international was only on the pitch for 18 minutes at Anfield before collecting his second booking.

Mancini disagreed with the decision to award the red card, given after a stray elbow from Balotelli caught Martin Skrtel in the face, and the Citizens' boss went so far as to implicate the Liverpool players as a prominent factor in the card being awarded.

"I don't think it was a yellow card and I don't think the referee thought it was a yellow card," he said. "My impression was the referee gave a free-kick but didn't want to give a yellow.

"Then the Liverpool players went over saying: 'Yellow card, yellow card.' This is not correct."

Mancini did take some positives out of the game, most notably the fact his team held on for a point after going down to ten men.

"It's a good result for us because we played the last 10 minutes with 10 men," he added.

The former Inter boss also denied another falling out with the fiery young Italian, despite them appearing to have a small spat as the player was leaving the field.

"We don't have a problem with Mario," said Mancini. "He's young. We can't change Mario in one month, two months, three months.

"If he can [change], he can do everything. In the last three months he has been playing very well. He's scored a lot of goals and been an important player for us."

Mancini did admit his dismay at the young striker succumbing to what his boss considered to be provocation on the part of the Liverpool players.

"I'm disappointed with Mario because the first booking [a foul on Glen Johnson] was a yellow card but not the second," he claimed. "Mario has to pay attention because there are many players who will try to provoke him."

Mancini made no effort to steer clear of any further controversy and was critical of Kenny Dalglish's team.

"I think so" was his reply, when asked if he thought Skrtel had exaggerated the challenge that led to Balotelli seeing red.

Topics:
Football
Manchester City
Premier League
Mario Balotelli