Tottenham Hotspur boss Harry Redknapp couldn't hide his frustration as a gallant performance away at Manchester City ended in heartbreaking defeat.
After fighting back from two goals down, Spurs had their chance to win it when Jermain Defoe was inches away from finishing Gareth Bale's cross in injury-time. Instead, Mario Balotelli won a penalty at the other end, and subsequently beat Brad Friedel to secure a memorable 3-2 win.
Despite the defeat, Redknapp was delighted to see such character from his side, with Defoe and Bale pulling the north Londoners back in the second period after Samir Nasri and Joleon Lescott had put the hosts clear. And the former Portsmouth boss admitted he thought they were going to win it before the England striker's near miss.
"We showed real character to come back and then had that great chance at the end. Gareth rolled the ball square to Jermain and we were all up on our feet ready for the ball to be put into the empty net," Redknapp told the official Spurs website.
"But he couldn't quite get there. He changed his stride pattern slightly and missed it by inches. They then got the ball forward, it was a bit of a melee and the penalty came from that. It was heartbreaking to lose like that.
"I couldn’t have asked for any more from the players. We came in at half-time at 0-0 and I thought it was evenly balanced, we kept the ball well and passed it great.
"We then had a bad two or three minutes when we conceded the two goals. We came back and looked the more likely to go on and win it at 2-2. It was so frustrating in the end but I was delighted with the players."
Debate over whether Balotelli should still have been on the pitch in the closing stages continues to rage, with the Italian avoiding punishment for an apparent stamp on the head of Scott Parker. He'd already been booked for a collision with Benoit Assou-Ekotto.
It was a moment that referee Howard Webb missed, and the former Inter Milan striker got his reprieve by winning the penalty - and the match - for City.
"The first [stamp] could be an accident, but the second one? He's back-heeled him straight in the head. I don't like talking about people kicking players in the head, but when you see that, it's wrong. It's blatantly obvious," he told SkySports post-match.
"Whether he gets sent off or whatever, it's wrong and I don't like seeing people react like that to a challenge."
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