Referee admits Balotelli red card error

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Mario Balotelli is unlikely to serve a suspension for his red card in Nice’s victory over Lorient after the referee admitted that he made an error.

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The striker has made a stunning start to his career in Ligue 1 after being rescued from his Liverpool nightmare on the final day of the transfer window.

Balotelli has scored six goals in five appearances in all competitions for leaders Nice since arriving in France, the latest an 86th-minute winner to secure a 2-1 victory on Sunday.

However, his match-winning display was overshadowed by two late bookings from referee Olivier Thual.

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His first card came as he celebrated his superb strike as he whipped off his shirt, while the second that duly produced a red followed an altercation with Steven Moreira.

Neither player appeared to do anything wrong, though, and Thual has acknowledged his decision was wrong, meaning Balotelli is unlikely to be banned.

“Olivier Thual has watched the match,” Pascal Garibian, technical director of refereeing, explained to L’Equipe.

“Of course, he agreed that the two yellow cards were rushed and shouldn’t have been given. The referee is available to the disciplinary committee to say this on record.

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“Then it will be up to them to judge if further action is needed.”

The disciplinary committee will discuss Balotelli’s case on Thursday, with Nice hoping he will be exonerated and become available for the visit of Lyon after the international break.

Balotelli will have a rest ahead of that match after being overlooked by Giampiero Ventura for his latest Italy squad, but Marco Verratti expects him to be back in contention if he maintains his current form.

“He’s still young and can give a lot to the national team,” the Paris Saint-Germain midfielder told Rai Sport.

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“I knew Mario would be reborn in France.

“Of course, four or five games isn’t enough, it takes consistency. I hope he finds himself in Nice, because a player like him can help the national team.”

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