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FA to probe derby fracas

Manchester City and Manchester United could face disciplinary action from the English Football Association after Mario Balotelli sparked ugly post-match scenes involving players from both clubs following City's FA Cup semi-final victory at Wembley on Saturday, writes Mark Ogden.

The FA has confirmed it will study referee Mike Dean's report of the melee, in which United's Anderson, Rio Ferdinand and Edwin van der Sar clashed with City players and coaching staff after Balotelli had celebrated in front of opposition fans at the end of the game.

Off the pitch, the Metropolitan Police made 34 arrests surrounding the game for offences including affray, common assault, ticket touting and possession of an offensive weapon.

Balotelli's behaviour proved to be the catalyst for the on-field clashes, however, and United winger Nani criticised the controversial Italian forward for inflaming tensions.

Nani said: "He was showing his badge to our fans and Anderson just took him out from in front of our fans. Rio was very angry because it is not fair, it was very disrespectful to do that in front of the fans. We were not happy with that."

United defender Ferdinand clashed with Balotelli and City coach David Platt. Ferdinand told City staff he was angered by their failure to control their players before apologising to Platt following the game.

The former England captain later issued a public apology on Twitter.

He wrote: "If u score a goal+give a bit to opposing fans I kind of accept that, but at the final whistle, go to your own fans+enjoy it not opposing fans. If I offended anyone, I apologise, emotions obviously running high."

City's victory was aided by Paul Scholes's dismissal for a studs-up challenge on the thigh of City full-back Pablo Zabaleta.

"It was a really bad tackle," said Zabaleta. "Very high. It was just over the knee. If it was any lower my knee would probably be gone. It was a 100% right decision by the referee." (© Daily Telegraph London)

Irish Independent