Aguero backs 'lovely' Balotelli

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Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero has leapt to the defence of strike partner Mario Balotelli following the confirmation of his FA charge for stamping on Tottenham Hotspur's Scott Parker.

The Italian is facing a four-game ban for the offence, which referee Howard Webb originally decided against penalising.

Balotelli, who had already been booked, escaped, and scored the winning goal from the penalty spot after Ledley King's foul on the 21-year-old, but the fracas with Parker hit the headlines.

"Firstly we all know what a fantastic player he is," Aguero said. "And off the pitch, everyone has their own path.

"But those of us who are really close to Mario know that off the field he's a really good lad. "Like a lot of players he has his own idiosyncrasies here and there.

"Everyone knows him as a player from what you see on the field. But I know that off the field he's a lovely lad.

"He's a young lad, he takes care of himself and approaches his life as he wants."

Amid the excitement in stoppage time at the Etihad Stadium, which has previously seen Jermain Defoe miss the opportunity to grab all three points for Spurs, Balotelli was calm and collected, slotting home the late penalty to maintain City's three point lead over Manchester United.

Midfielder James Milner says the way Balotelli deals with the pressure makes him the best penalty taker he's ever seen.

"I wouldn't have wanted anyone else but Mario to be in that position," he said. "He is definitely the best I have seen. He takes them like that in training.

"It doesn't matter whether there is any pressure on him or not. I have seen him take 60 or 70 penalties against Joe Hart, who is no slouch between the sticks.

"Joe has only saved one — and when he did he was jumping around because he had saved it. He just waits for the keeper and makes it impossible for him to save it. I had full confidence in him that he would put that away."

City are yet to make a decision on whether they'll appeal against Balotelli's charge, an appeal which if upheld could be extended given his poor disciplinary record (17 yellow cards and three reds) since joining the Premier League leaders in the summer 2010.

Manchester City
Premier League
Sergio Aguero
Mario Balotelli

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