Belfast Telegraph

Mancini fuming after Johnson tackle

By Carl Markham

Steven Gerrard rejected Roberto Mancini's criticism of a tackle by Glen Johnson during Liverpool's Carling Cup semi-final first-leg win over Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium last night.

Gerrard, who scored the only goal from the penalty spot in the first half after Stefan Savic's foul on Daniel Agger, rejected the City manager's complaint over a tackle by Johnson on Joleon Lescott.

Mancini, whose side were without captain Vincent Kompany who was banned after being sent off for a two-footed challenge on Nani in the FA Cup defeat to Manchester United at the weekend, felt Johnson should have suffered similar punishment.

In the aftermath of that match, Mancini claimed that United's Wayne Rooney had tried to influence the Kompany sending-off.

Gerrard said: “It surprises me because he had a go at Wayne Rooney. Now he has had a go at one of ours.”

Mancini admitted referee Lee Mason had been right to award the penalty but insisted he should have punished Johnson for sliding in two-footed on Lescott.

“I want to see the tackle by Johnson. I thought that was worse,” he said.

Mancini admitted the absence of Kompany through suspension, David Silva with an ankle injury and Yaya and Kolo Toure at the African Nations Cup had made it hard for his team.

He said: “It is clear that without three or four players it's difficult.

“The result is not right. For me the result was a draw maybe.

“We can win away against Liverpool. It will be difficult, but we will try. It is only one goal.”

Liverpool boss Kenny Dalglish said: “It was two different performances in each half.

“In the first we looked a lot more threatening.

“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.

“They are always a very difficult team to break down. They are a fantastic side and that's why they are top of the league.

“We might have a slight advantage with the goal, but that doesn't mean to say there is anybody jumping through hoops.

“We'll just be as professional as we can in the second leg."

Gerrard was able to complete his second 90 minutes following his injury lay off.

Dalglish added: “He is going to get better every time he finishes a match.

“We've tried to be sensible with the way we've progressed him. More importantly than us, he is certainly gaining the benefit from it as well.

“It's great to see him back. He's got a great influence on us.”

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