Europa League: Mancini blasts Balotelli after Manchester City’s exit
Manchester City 1 Dynamo Kiev 0 (Kiev won 2-1 on aggregate): Roberto Mancini has accused Mario Balotelli of stupidity in picking up a red card that cost Manchester City a Europa League quarter-final place.
Two goals down from the first leg of their last-16 meeting with Dynamo Kiev, City were left to play for almost an hour with 10 men after Balotelli was sent off for planting his studs into Goran Popov's chest and thigh.
Although the Blues did pull one back through Aleksandar Kolarov before the break, a second goal that would have forced the tie into extra-time eluded them, leaving Mancini frustrated at the end.
“If it stays 11 versus 11, we would have probably scored two or three goals,” he claimed.
“I didn't see the foul properly, but I am very disappointed because in a game like this it is very difficult if you pick up a red card — and you can pick up a red card for doing something stupid.
“The problem for Mario is that he thinks he could be a fantastic player, but when he does something stupid like that, it is difficult for me, difficult for him and difficult for the team.”
Although Balotelli's suspension will not kick in until next year, Mancini must wonder how long he can maintain any trust in the 20-year-old, who for all his exceptional ability, at times is an acute liability.
The City boss was also incensed by Dynamo's time-wasting tactics.
“Every time they dived and every time the referee saw it, but that is what happens,” he said.
Mancini's complaints were met with a sharp rebuttal from Dynamo coach Yuri Semin.
“It is part of football,” he shrugged. “There were some quite serious clashes. That is why the referee gave quite a few yellow cards.”
If there is one piece of good news for City it is that the relentless slog of two games a week that they have been ploughing through for most of the season has now come to an end.
It also means they have a free week before the FA Cup semi-final with Manchester United in the middle of next month when their opponents are engaged in a Champions League quarter-final.
That does seem minor consolation in the wake of Balotelli's madness, though.
“It was going to be difficult for us anyway with 11 players,” added Mancini. “We played very well and stopped them from creating any chances but with 10 players it was very hard.”