Balotelli avoids suspension after Lorient red

The controversial striker is free to continue his blistering start to life at the Ligue 1 side after his potential suspension was not enforced by league officials

Mario Balotelli’s second yellow card against Lorient has been wiped from the records, the Ligue de Football Professionnel has confirmed.

The Italian was shown two yellows and the subsequent red in Ligue 1 on Sunday – but a reprieve was always likely after referee Olivier Thual admitted post-game that he had blundered in cautioning Balotelli for a second time.

The striker was booked as he celebrated his 86th-minute strike – a goal that would prove to be the winner – and had his name taken again for an apparent altercation with Steven Moreira deep into stoppage time.

Pascal Garibian, technical director of refereeing, explained, however, that Thual confirmed he made a mistake in the aftermath of the game at the Allianz Riviera.

“Olivier Thual has watched the match,” Garibian told L’Equipe. “Of course, he agreed that the two yellow cards [for Balotelli and Moreira] 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 published their findings on Thursday and confirmed Balotelli’s second yellow had been expunged, meaning no suspension would be served.

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.

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