Gerrard backs Johnson tackle


Liverpool skipper Steven Gerrard has backed under-fire defender Glen Johnson after his two-footed lunge went unpunished in the Carling Cup semi-final against Manchester City.

Referee Lee Mason's decision not to act sparked criticism from City boss Roberto Mancini, who saw his captain Vincent Kompany sent off for a similar offence during the Manchester derby on Sunday.

Gerrard, who netted The Reds' winner from the penalty spot, was quick to back his club and international teammate.

Asked if the incident deserved a red card, Gerrard said: "I don't think so.

"It was a clear winner of a tackle. Roberto Mancini had a go at Wayne Rooney for trying to get his player sent off on Sunday so trying to get one of our players into trouble, that's not right."

In repost, a furious Mancini said: "Gerrard came to me and said, ‘you said this,’ but that’s not important.

"Steven Gerrard can say what he wants, no problem. I said what I think. The tackle was worse than Vinny’s."

With the only goal of the first leg at the Etihad Stadium, Gerrard has continued his comeback from an injury-laden 2011 with a spot-kick that gives Liverpool a crucial advantage going into the return game at Anfield.

"It's nice to be back. I feel like a footballer again - I've had a difficult year," Gerrard added.

"It's games like this that I've missed, games like this I've been patient for and worked so hard to get back for.

"I got the winning goal, but it was all about the team. We defended superbly from back to front. We weren't effective in the second half, we know that, but we were playing one of the big powers in the world and sometimes you've got to do the ugly stuff.

"We've done that - maybe the pretty stuff will come at Anfield in two weeks' time."

After two impressive performances in the league against City, Liverpool finally clocked up a victory over the Premier League leaders and despite coming under late pressure, Dalglish was impressed with his side's resilience.

"It was two different performances in each half. In the first we looked a lot more threatening than in the second, but in the second half with the goal advantage we just battened down the hatches and tried our best to get through it.

"We've had no goals against us - not too many teams have come here and gone away with no goals against them.

"It was a fantastic effort from the players in the second half. It might not have been the prettiest performance, but they didn't fall short in their desire, commitment or ambition in any way.

"Once we got ourselves in front, we were determined not to lose it."

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