England

Mancini and Gerrard clash in tunnel

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Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini was involved in an angry tunnel exchange with Liverpool skipper Steven Gerrard after Wednesday night's 1-0 Carling Cup defeat at the Etihad Stadium.

SEMIFINAL ACTION

Check out all the images from the Carling Cup semifinal round.

The pair clashed twice, the second particularly fractious, with Gerrard annoyed at Mancini's response to a late tackle by Glen Johnson on Joleon Lescott.

However, after Mancini had completed a round of interviews, they had a further, more cordial discussion, although the City chief was clearly not a happy man.

"Steven Gerrard can say what he wants," said Mancini. "I said what I think. That is what I am used to doing.

"It is not important what Steven Gerrard or the other players have said."

Mancini is still annoyed at the four-match ban skipper Vincent Kompany must serve following his controversial dismissal against Manchester United at the weekend.

The City manager was adamant his captain would succeed in his appeal, claiming that, in 30 years in the game, he had never seen anyone get sent off for the kind of tackle on Nani referee Chris Foy deemed worthy of a red card.

And Mancini felt an even greater sense of injustice this evening as he felt Johnson's tackle on Lescott was even more questionable.

"It was worse," he said. "This tackle was worse. Gerrard came to me and said I said something.

"It was not for Johnson. It is for the tackle. This tackle was worse than Vinny's. Everyone can see it."

Gerrard was quick to respond, saying on BBC1: "It surprises me because he had a go at Wayne Rooney.

"Now he's had a go at one of ours."

The incident completed a bad night for Mancini and his team, who suffered back-to-back home defeats for the first time since February 2008.

Kompany's stand-in Stefan Savic had a particularly difficult time, struggling to contain Liverpool forward Andy Carroll and conceding the penalty that allowed Gerrard to ram home the winner when he caught Daniel Agger.

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That Savic is expected to retain his place for the Premier League trip to Wigan next Monday hardly inspires confidence, although Mancini is looking on the bright side.

"Savic needs to get experience," he said. "It is normal. He is young. Against a striker like Carroll maybe he could have some difficulties. But in the second half it went better."

Mancini confirmed he expects to know within the next 48 hours the extent of the ankle injuries that kept David Silva out tonight and forced Mario Balotelli off towards the end of the first half.

After losing three times in their last four games, City are in their toughest period of the season and with Tottenham to face before the end of the month, in addition to the decisive semi-final at Anfield just afterwards, it is not getting any easier, with both Yaya and Kolo Toure absent on African Nations Cup duty with the Ivory Coast.

"We have just played two difficult games," he said. "I knew this before, when I said that January will be an important month for us because we lose three or four important players."

Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish, who insisted he did not see Johnson's two-footed tackle on Lescott very late in the game, admitted his side were under pressure in the second half but praised his players' commitment for holding on.

"There were two different performances in each half; first half we looked a little more threatening but in the second half, having got the goal advantage, we battened down the hatches and tried to get through it with no goals against us," said the Scot.

"Not too many teams have come here and gone away with no goals against them.

"It was a fantastic effort by the players in the second half - it might not have been the prettiest performance but it did not fall short of desire.

"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 is why they are top of the league.

"To be fair Pepe (Reina) had a good save from Richards' header and from (Samir) Nasri in the first half.

"If you come here and win 1-0 you are not going to be unhappy. It is a fantastic performance by the players against a team that are a really good side."

Despite coming out on top at the Etihad Stadium Dalglish was taking nothing for granted in the return leg in a fortnight's time.

"We might have the slight advantage with the goal but it does not mean to say there will be anyone jumping through hoops at our place - we will just go and be professional in the second leg," he added.

"We have to be happy but we are not presuming that the job is done."
 

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