Gerrard surprised as Mancini hits out at Johnson

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Steven Gerrard rejected Roberto Mancini’s criticism of a reckless-looking tackle by Glen Johnson during Liverpool’s Carling Cup semi-final first-leg win over Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium last night.

Gerrard, who scored the only goal from the penalty spot in the first half after Stefan Savic’s foul on Daniel Agger, rejected the City manager’s complaint over a challenge by Johnson on Joleon Lescott.

Mancini, whose side were without captain Vincent Kompany who was banned after being sent off for a two-footed challenge on Nani in the FA Cup defeat to Manchester United on Sunday, felt Johnson should have suffered similar punishment.

In the aftermath of that match, Mancini claimed that United’s Wayne Rooney had tried to influence Kompany’s sending-off.

Gerrard responded: “It surprises me because he (Mancini) had a go at Wayne Rooney. Now he has had a go at one of ours.”

The former England captain warned his team-mates not to take a place in the final for granted.

He said: “There is no way this game is over, the job is half done.”

Mancini admitted referee Lee Mason had been right to award the penalty but insisted he should have punished Johnson for sliding in two-footed, with studs showing, on Lescott.

“I want to see the tackle by Johnson. I thought that was worse,” he said.

Mancini claimed the absence of Kompany through suspension, David Silva with an ankle injury, and Yaya and Kolo Toure because of African Nations Cup demands, had made it hard for his team.

He said: “It is clear that without three or four players it’s difficult.

“The result is not right. For me the result was a draw maybe.”

Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish, who insisted he did not see Johnson’s two-footed tackle on Lescott, 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.”