Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini was left unimpressed after Samir Nasri's red card on Saturday evening. The French playmaker was shown a straight red, a minute before half-time, after an argument with Norwich City defender Sebastien Bassong.
The Premier League champions did go on to win the match 4-3, with a brace from Bosnian striker Edin Dzeko, but Mancini believes his side could have won more emphatically with 11 men on the field.
The Italian also said City would appeal against the red card which, if enforced, will see the former Arsenal midfielder banned for three games, including a trip to the Emirates to play his former club.
"It changed the game. If not we would have won this game without a problem. With 10 players it is difficult as Norwich is a good team - 11 against ten is not easy, but today we showed why we are there for the title because we won't leave this title easy and we'll fight every game. With ten players the guys were fantastic," Mancini explained.
The former Lazio and Inter Milan manager also took aim at match officials for the game at Carrow Road and his comments, injudiciously perhaps, come only two days after the FA requested an explanation of his conduct during the Boxing Day defeat to Sunderland.
"It was not a red card. I cannot understand why the linesman said to the referee it was a red card because I was there and Samir did nothing. Both players came forward with their heads, so if you are going to send off one, then you have to send off both, not only Samir. Samir said he touched his head, okay, but the other player has done the same," Mancini continued.
However, the red card aside, the City boss was happy with his side's performance. The win means the defending champions close the year on a high and maintain the seven-point deficit to leaders Manchester United; the Old Trafford club beat high-flying West Brom 2-0 at home, with Gareth McAuley's own-goal and Robin van Persie's 90th-minute strike sealing all three points for Sir Alex Ferguson.
"We played very well and played fantastic football for 20 minutes. Dzeko scored two important goals and I am happy. I was happy after Sunderland as well when we were missing only a goal. Carlos [Tevez; against the Black Cats] played well, Sergio [Agüero] played well and clearly when the strikers score it is easy for us," Mancini added.