Mario Balotelli needs to be smarter - Roberto Mancini

Mario Balotelli
Balotelli received the third red card of his City career at Anfield

Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini has warned striker Mario Balotelli to be savvy about opponents who are trying to get him sent off.

Mancini accused Liverpool players of provoking the striker when he was shown a red card in Sunday's 1-1 draw, his third in 16 months since joining City.

"Mario should pay attention and he should be clever," Mancini said.

"I can do nothing - only he is on the pitch. He should pay attention and think only about football."

Balotelli, a second-half substitute, had been on the field just 18 minutes at Anfield when he was shown a second yellow card for a clash with Martin Skrtel in the 83rd minute.

"I think he made a mistake only for the first foul when he took the first yellow card," Mancini said. "Then he should not take any risks."

Balotelli is enjoying the best spell of his City career, having scored nine times this season.

Mancini added: "He is more mature, this is clear. But, in my opinion, if Mario was on the pitch in the last 20 minutes, we could have won the game.

"It is important Mario understands we need him as a player on the pitch."

Balotelli is back in contention for tomorrow's home league clash with Norwich after serving the ban for his red card by sitting out the midweek Carling Cup quarter-final win at Arsenal.