Mario Balotelli says sorry for sending off

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The Independent Football

Mario Balotelli has apologised to his Manchester City team-mates for his red card in last night's Europa League encounter with Dynamo Kiev at Eastlands.

Manager Roberto Mancini branded Balotelli "stupid" for the dismissal, for planting his studs into the chest and thigh of Dynamo defender Goran Popov.

Mancini felt the 36th-minute dismissal cost his side their chance of reaching the last eight and tonight Balotelli has expressed his regret.

"I am very sorry to my team-mates in particular that I got sent off so early in such an important game," said Balotelli.

It was the latest in a long line of controversies affecting the 20-year-old, who has mixed undoubted talent with an unerring ability to attract trouble since his summer arrival from Inter Milan.

In the past, Mancini has accused Balotelli of not listening to him and he claimed last night the Italy forward would be axed for Sunday's crucial Premier League trip to Chelsea.

However, the Blues have confirmed Balotelli will be available for the Stamford Bridge encounter as the forward tried to explain what went wrong yesterday.

"I was trying my best for the team as I always do," he said.

"The ball was in the air and I went for it with my foot high.

"I never tried to make contact with Popov and I certainly didn't want to hurt him. In retrospect, however, the tackle was poor.

"I should have showed more consideration but I was so involved in the game.

"It was not a good way to repay the manager who has shown so much faith in me or the owners and fans who have made me so welcome since I arrived from Italy.

"I hope they forgive me and see that I want success with Manchester City."

It became apparent life around Balotelli would be eventful when the player scored on his debut in Timisoara, then suffered a knee injury that kept him out for two months.

Balotelli also scored two goals in a victory over West Brom in October, after which he was sent off for two bookable offences.

A string of off-field actions included wearing an AC Milan shirt on an Italian TV show, which antagonised the Inter fans he used to play for in addition to irritating those of City.

The reason for a late night drive into a women's prison in Italy has never been fully explained, whilst he also had to be pulled apart from Jerome Boateng during a City training session in December.

And even though the medical information was that Balotelli was in severe trouble, there was an element of farce about him suffering an allergic reaction to the grass in Kiev last week that forced his face to swell up.

Little wonder Balotelli accepts life in England has not been straightforward.

"From my injury on I have had some difficulties," he said with some degree of understatement.

"It is not an easy period for me but I will overcome it with the help of everybody."

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