Birmingham reject Roberto Mancini's 'dive' claim

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Birmingham boss Alex McLeish hit back at claims from Roberto Mancini that Kevin Phillips dived to win the penalty which further dented Manchester City's title hopes.

Substitute Phillips was adjudged by referee Kevin Friend to have been brought down by Patrick Vieira for the spot-kick which Craig Gardner converted to earn Birmingham a 2-2 home draw.

Mancini insisted the 37-year-old striker "had dived" and his side are now eight points adrift of leaders Manchester United, who have a game in hand.

He said: "If the referee gives that sort of penalty every game, there will be five penalties minimum every match."

But McLeish gave short shrift to the claims of his counterpart that the penalty should not have been awarded.

He said: "He (Mancini) would say that. If you look at the penalties given against us this season, they were much, much softer than that.

"I'm sure City have had their fair share that Roberto would claim were penalties and were probably of the dubious kind.

"For me that is a penalty because Kevin turned Vieira, has flicked the ball past him, and Vieira has clattered into him.

"How is not that a foul? Kevin never dived. Kevin is not a diver. He is a real true English gent."

The visitors twice led through Carlos Tevez and Aleksandar Kolarov but were pegged back by Nikola Zigic and Craig Gardner.

Mancini said: "It was a disappointing result for us and we can't keep conceding two goals every game.

"It is impossible to win if you do that every time and the gap at the top at this moment is too much.

"It is better we wake up quickly."

To add to Mancini's woes, defender Micah Richards was taken to hospital suffering from concussion after colliding with his team-mate Nigel De Jong.

Mancini said: "Micah is in hospital. I haven't spoken to him and I don't know what's happened but it is concussion. He lost consciousness and he is in hospital."

McLeish said: "We deserved the draw. We shot ourselves in the foot by giving away a couple of silly goals but we were excellent in the second half."

Blues are hoping on-loan newcomer Obafemi Martins will be able to obtain his work visa sooner rather than later and he is currently in his native Nigeria waiting for the green light.

McLeish said: "We want him back as soon as possible but our hands are tied by the red tape.

"We need some people in Nigeria to hopefully push the wee man through.

"He is a popular guy. I would hope the embassy would be responsive to allowing Oba to get back in this country as soon as possible."



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