Manchester City goalkeeper Costel Pantilimon insists the players should be proud of their rousing second-half effort in FA Cup defeat yesterday.
Roberto Mancini's side lost the derby at the Etihad Stadium 3-2, with arch-rivals Manchester United capitalising on a controversial red-card to Vincent Kompany to take a three goal lead at half-time.
However, strikes from Aleksander Kolarov and Sergio Aguero brought the Citizens back into contention despite the numerical disadvantage, and Pantilimon thinks the display should raise confidence levels ahead of the Carling Cup semi-final, first leg against Liverpool on Wednesday.
"We are happy – we agree with the fans because the referee made it like this by expelling a player really early. I don’t think it was great but it has not damaged our confidence," said the Romanian international post-match.
"It was an interesting game but losing a player after 12 minutes is not normal. It was a foul but a normal foul and not a direct red card. We were surprised that the referee gave a red card. At this level, it is not normal and when you play a team like United it is important you have 11 men.
"But in the second half we played on the counter-attack and scored two goals but couldn’t get the third goal, though we had chances."
Pantilimon, who was a surprise inclusion ahead of England No.1 Joe Hart, managed to save Wayne Rooney's penalty in the first period, but was unable to stop the striker from heading home the rebound to score what was the eventual winner.
Heads could easily have dropped for the hosts at that point, but Mancini managed to lift spirits in the dressing room at the interval, and had a late penalty shout gone their way the tie could have been forced into a replay.
As it was, Pantilimon suffered defeat in his fourth game for the club, but is hoping to get another chance of victory against the Reds in midweek.
"The manager explained we must stay compact as we had only 10 players and it was 3-0. He said it was a chance for us to play better," he added.
"I heard it was a penalty, that the player used his hand. The other players saw this but the referee didn’t and that was the important thing for us.
On the midweek Cup tie, he concluded: "The manager decides which 11 go on the pitch and I hope to be in there. We have both trained well, and train for the team to win trophies, and all three goalkeepers are wonderful.
"The team is very good and we all want to be in this team.”
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