The Italian was set to confront Chris Smalling before Liverpool fan Shaun Leatherbarrow, who was sitting in the front row, calmed the Italian down
A Liverpool supporter has claimed credit for helping his side avoid a second red card in Sunday’s defeat to Manchester United after he restrained Mario Balotelli during a confrontation with Chris Smalling.
Having already seen captain Steven Gerrard dismissed just 38 seconds after his introduction at half-time, Liverpool were already down to 10 men when Balotelli – who was already on a yellow card – was involved in a tussle on the sideline with Smalling.
Balotelli’s momentum saw him end up alongside the advertising hoardings and Shaun Leatherbarrow, who was sitting in the front row at Anfield, said he felt it was his responsibility to calm the Italy international.
“The way I saw it, Smalling sort of shoved Mario off the pitch and Mario grabbed him just to have something to grab on to,” the supporter told the Liverpool Echo.
“I could tell from Mario’s body language he was ready to react and I knew he’d already had a yellow card.
“I was saying, ‘Calm down, leave it, leave it’, and he was saying, ‘OK, OK’. I’m only five foot, eight inches and he’s a big lad so I was struggling to get my arms around him.
“Peter, the lad who sits next to me at the ground, helped me and he’s a police officer who sometimes works at Anfield on match days.
“Afterwards all the lads were laughing and patting me on the back as well as having a go at Smalling.”