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Mancini urges caution, defends Balotelli

SoccerNews in English Premier League, FA Cup 16 Apr 2011

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Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini has urged his players to make the most of their FA Cup semi-final defeat of Manchester United.

United’s bid for the treble came to an anti-climactic end as lively rivals City ran out 1-0 winners at Wembley on Saturday, moving the Eastlands club a step closer to ending their 35-year trophy drought.

Ivorian midfielder Yaya Toure burst into the box after an error by Michael Carrick and scored in the 52nd minute, and United’s hopes were dealt a severe blow soon after when veteran midfielder Paul Scholes saw red for an ugly challenge on Pablo Zabaleta.

The final whistle prompted rousing scenes at Wembley as City supporters celebrated and Mancini’s troops embraced mid-pitch, but the City boss was keen to keep a lid on the emotion with a final against Bolton Wanderers or Stoke City still to come.

“Today we have only won the semi-final,” he said.

“I’m very happy for the supporters. They have never had a day like this afternoon but for us it’s important we forget. We still have to play another game. Probably the final will be harder than this.”

Volatile forward Mario Balotelli provided an entertaining postscript to the match by provoking United supporters from the touchline, prompting an angry response from opponents Rio Ferdinand and Anderson.

The situation was quickly defused by City staff, who dragged Balotelli away. Mancini was keen to play down the incident, joking the notoriously hot-headed Italian should be locked away for his latest indiscretion.

“We can put him in jail? Next week we can put him in jail for this,” Mancini said.

“Every time it’s Balotelli’s fault but I want to wait. I didn’t see what happened so it’s difficult to say.”

United manager Sir Alex Ferguson rued sloppy second-half defending in the loss, and said it was time to move on and prepare for Tuesday’s visit to Newcastle United in the English Premier League.

“The first 15 minutes after half time cost us the game,” Ferguson said.

“From then on, they were defending apart from a couple of counter-attacks. It’s disappointing as we should’ve been ahead in the first half as we were the better team.”

“We’re getting recovered to get ready for the game on Tuesday. It doesn’t matter when you play, you know you’ve got to recover and get on a winning streak again.”

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