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Fergie unhappy with referee as United dropped points

Posted: 28 Dec 2010 08:48 PM PST

Wednesday, December 29th, 2010 12:19:00

Football

DEVILS' BANE: Van der Sar (right) unable to stop Bowyer from scoring an equalising goal against Man United this morning

LONDON: Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson bemoaned the referee's failure to spot a foul by tall striker Nikola Zigic after they were held to a disappointing 1-1 draw by Birmingham City at St Andrew's this morning.

However, the result still steered back United to top of the table which was occupied a couple of hours earlier by local rivals Manchester City who outplayed Aston Villa 4-0 at City of Manchester Stadium.

The Red Devils appeared to be heading towards only a second Premier League away win of the season when Dimitar Berbatov clinically finished off a slick move in the 58th minute.

However, Birmingham snatched a point a minute from time when midfielder Lee Bowyer pounced from close range to steer home Zigic's knock-down.

However, Ferguson felt Birmingham substitute Zigic had fouled his centreback Rio Ferdinand before using his arm to guide the ball into Bowyer's path and was disappointed referee Lee Mason did not spot the offences.

"Handball, a foul on the centreback, he went right through him," Ferguson told Sky Sports.

"If the referee can't see that, what chance have you got?

"At this level, in a game of that importance, you hope you're going to get a referee that can see that. If he can't, what chance have you got?

"I've got no complaints with my team today, they fought hard, they worked hard and had only two days' rest.

"They have run their socks off to get a result and it's hard on them."

Veteran winger Ryan Giggs and Berbatov both hit the post for United and Ferguson felt they were unfortunate not to claim all three points.

"I think it's terribly harsh. I think we outplayed them in the second half and we didn't deserve that.

"But football is a funny game. It's a tight league, it's a difficult place to come here and every team that come here have a difficult game.

"I think we deserved to win the game. We were the better team, but maybe we should have finished them off after we went 1-0 up.

"There were a number of times we counter-attacked, but we needed more care in our finishing pass and finishing shot. It was just one of those days,' said Ferguson.

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Reluctant hero

Posted: 28 Dec 2010 08:18 PM PST

...but Balotelli insists he is happy at City after Villa bashing

Wednesday, December 29th, 2010 12:14:00

Football

FINISH THEM! Balotelli scores City's fourth goal of the match from a penalty kick

MANCHESTER: Controversial striker Mario Balotelli is adamant he is "very happy" at Manchester City and brushed off his lack of celebrations when he scores.

The 20-year-old Italy international or "Super Mario", scored a hattrick — his first in England — in City's 4-0 bashing of Aston Villa at City of Manchester Stadium yesterday but was muted in his celebrations of the accomplishment.

Two of Balotelli's goals were from penalties in the 8th and 55th minute. The other came in the 27th minute.

The other goal was scored by defender Joleon Lescott in the 13th minute.

The three goals took Balotelli's tally to eight in 11 appearances since his move from Inter Milan, but he insists scoring is simply part of his job.

"I am always happy, even when I don't smile," he told City's website.

"But I feel a striker has to score. It is my job. That is why I don't smile. I am still happy and I can score more."

The lack of emotion has been mooted as a reason for reported homesickness, but Balotelli has played down claims that he is unsettled at City.

"I am very happy even if the journalists in Italy say I want to go to Milan," he said.

"I am here and I am working hard in training. I want to be an important man for this team and the results are on the pitch."

Balotelli's performance provides manager Roberto Mancini with a selection dilemma ahead of Saturday's encounter with Blackpool, when skipper Carlos Tevez is expected to return after being rested for the Villa game.

Yet that squad strength is one of the factors which lead a growing number to conclude that City can win the title this season and Balotelli is one of them.

"We can win this championship," he said.

"In the New Year we can be better."

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