MANCHESTER City have apologised to Rio Ferdinand after the Manchester United defender appeared to be hit by a coin as he celebrated his side’s third goal in their 3-2 victory at the Etihad Stadium yesterday.
Ferdinand sustained a cut just above the eye in the incident, which is being investigated by Greater Manchester Police. The Football Association has confirmed it has opened an investigation.
‘‘We apologise to Rio,’’ said a Manchester City spokesperson.
‘‘We condemn the actions of the individual concerned.
‘‘We are reviewing the CCTV with the police and our normal security.
‘‘We will support the police with any investigation and hopefully identify the person as soon as possible.’’ Ferdinand was able to complete the game and afterwards on Twitter said: ‘‘Whoever threw that coin, what a shot!
‘‘Can’t believe it was a copper 2p....could have at least been a £1 coin!’’ Sir Alex Ferguson adopted a more serious tone.
‘‘It was disappointing when the supporter ran on the pitch and Rio got hit in the eye by a coin,’’ he said. The game didn’t deserve that.’’ After Ferdinand was struck by the missile, a Manchester City fan ran on to the pitch in the England defender’s direction.
He slipped and fell to the ground as he approached the player and was then obstructed by City keeper Joe Hart, who pushed him away.
The supporter was then led away from the pitch.
The incident was not shown to viewers of the match on Sky Sports.
When Ferdinand left the pitch at the end of the match he was seen to have an object in his hand, which he showed to referee Martin Atkinson before he threw it to the ground.
Another Ferdinand tweet added: ‘‘Respect to Joe Hart for protecting that idiot who ran on!! Love the banter between fans but there is a point when it goes too far...calm it!’’ It was a sad postscript to a thrilling afternoon in which United thought they had established a match-winning lead through Wayne Rooney’s double before City hit back in the second half.
Indeed, once Pablo Zabaleta had levelled after Yaya Toure had halved the deficit, it seemed like the hosts would go on to win, only for Robin van Persie’s deflected freekick to seal the spoils for United, who move six points clear at the top.
‘‘We should have been out of sight with the chances we had,’’ said Ferguson. But you have to give credit to City.
‘‘They keep going and they score late goals. Fortunately we got the last one.’’ Rooney’s double established him as United’s leading scorer in Manchester derbies.
The England man is now level with City duo Francis Lee and Joe Hayes on ten.
However, when Ashley Young had a third incorrectly ruled out for offside, City took advantage almost immediately, leaving the game on a knife-edge.
‘‘Intensity, passion, competitiveness...
everything was there,’’ Ferguson said. ‘‘The incident with Ashley was disappointing because from 3-0 up it went to 2-1 in minutes.
‘‘Football can kick you in the teeth that way.
‘‘But there will always be controversy in a match like that because there are so many things happening.’’ It left Roberto Mancini to reflect on another dismal performance from Mario Balotelli.
The Italian was preferred to Carlos Tevez but after an ineffective opening period, showed no sign of improvement afterwards, triggering a stark warning from his manager.
‘‘I love Mario but it is important for him to start to think about his job,’’ said Mancini.
‘‘He has everything to play well but he can’t continue to play like today. We wanted more from him.
‘‘When you have a player that has Mario’s quality, you cannot understand why he continues to throw it out of the window. It is incredible.
‘‘I have seen players in my life with fantastic quality. But in the end, they did nothing.
‘‘I don’t want Mario to finish like these players. It would be bad for him.’’ Tevez’s introduction certainly sparked a City side – already reeling through the loss of skipper Vincent Kompany with a calf injury – into life.
It was Tevez’s half-cleared corner that led to Zabaleta’s equaliser, although there was some confusion about where the Argentina star should have been for Van Persie’s fateful free-kick given he moved away from his place in the wall to try and mark Rooney, who had become the sixth – and youngest – player to reach 150 Premier League goals.
‘‘I don’t know what happened,’’ said Mancini. ‘‘We made a mistake by only putting three players in the wall. I called Carlos to come back into the wall but from the bench I was too far away.’’