Mancini furious at Balotelli dismissal

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The Independent Football

Roberto Mancini believes it is vital Manchester City are going into Wednesday's derby clash with Manchester United having returned to form - and hopes their match-winner yesterday Mario Balotelli might be available for the Eastlands encounter.

Balotelli eased some of the pressure on his manager and fellow Italian Mancini by netting twice in the first half against West Brom at the Hawthorns as City secured a 2-0 victory to halt their run of three successive defeats.

But the 20-year-old's afternoon turned sour after the break as he received a yellow card having clattered in to Marek Cech and was then given his marching orders within minutes following a tangle with Youssouf Mulumbu - who was also dismissed late on for scything down Carlos Tevez.

The straight red card shown to Balotelli left Mancini enraged and stating his intention to appeal against the decision by referee Lee Probert.

That opens up the possibility of the striker being cleared in time to face second-placed United, who City, in fourth spot, are now once again only three points behind in the Barclays Premier League.

Rejecting suggestions Balotelli had kicked out at Mulumbu, Mancini said: "I absolutely do not agree with the referee about this sending-off.

"A red card for what? He played a fantastic game, he scored two goals, but the sending-off was very strange.

"I want to know why it was a direct red card. For me this is not correct and the referee must explain."

City were in second place behind leaders Chelsea before suffering a slump in results, and asked how significant he thought it was for his side to have got back to winning ways before the derby, Mancini said: "It is important because we are in a good position.

"We have this game (against United) and we can get to second position again."

West Brom have now picked up three red cards in the space of a week after they were reduced to nine men at Blackpool last Monday.

While Pablo Ibanez's was rescinded following an appeal, Baggies boss Roberto Di Matteo had no complaints about the decision to send Gonzalo Jara off in that match and was similarly accepting that Mulumbu deserved to go against City - although he also felt there was nothing wrong with Balotelli's dismissal.

"I think the referee was in a good position on the (Balotelli) sending-off," Di Matteo said.

"My player wasn't happy with the challenge and the official was there.

"In terms of the second one, for my player, I think there was no doubt about it."

The defeat was Albion's first at home in the league since January and Di Matteo believes his side were beaten by a squad of players - with City able to name the likes of James Milner, Emmanuel Adebayor and Adam Johnson as substitutes - who can still challenge for the title.

"I think they definitely are (contenders), if you look at the amount of quality players they have," he said.

"I don't know if you noticed the bench they had - the players that can come on and change a game, and the ones they have on the pitch already."