Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini was left baffled by the referee’s decision to dismiss Samir Nasri in their thrilling away victory at Norwich City.
Nasri appeared to push his head into Sebastian Bassong, resulting in a red card for the French international and a yellow for the defender.
However, Mancini insisted he did not believe his player showed attacking intent, but was involved in a simple a clash of heads.
“The linesman was very close but I don’t know, we saw the video – both players touch each other’s heads, it was nothing,” said the Italian.
“The sending off changed the game – if he was not dismissed, we would have won this game without a problem.
“It was not a red card – I can’t understand why the linesman said to the referee that it was a red card because Samir did nothing.”
City scored twice in the opening four minutes, both through Edin Dzeko in a rare start for the Bosnian.
But what appeared to be a procession for the visitors changed thanks to a 15th minute goal from Anthony Pilkington, putting the Champions’ under pressure.
City restored their two-goal lead with a goal from Sergio Aguero on 50 minutes, before Norwich hit back on 63 minutes with an effort from Russell Martin.
And the Sky Blues completed the win after a shot from Dzeko came off the post before hitting Canaries goalkeeper Mark Bunn and rolling in.
Despite Norwich adding a consolation goal – Russell Martin grabbing his second of the day – City held on for the win, thrilling Mancini.
“We fight for every game, the guys were fantastic,” said the former Inter Milan boss.
“Edin did very well today, he scored two or three goals – clearly if the strikers score, it’s easy.
“We decided to play Edin in the last three days because now we play three or four games in 10 days, we need all of our players to be fresh.”
The Champions end the year still seven points behind league leaders Manchester United, who beat West Bromwich Albion.