Mario Balotelli could yet face an FA ban – Graham Poll

Balotelli could yet face an FA ban after appearing to stamp on Parker

Mario Balotelli gave Howard Webb his easiest and hardest decisions of a great game on Sunday and the referee appeared perfectly placed for both.

The easiest was the awarding of the stoppage-time penalty after Ledley King clearly fouled the City striker.

However, many thought that Balotelli was lucky to be on the field to convert the spot-kick after a clash with Scott Parker.

Clash: Mario Balotelli appeared to stamp on Scott Parker

Clash: Mario Balotelli appeared to stamp on Scott Parker

There was clearly an initial accidental contact with Parker but as Balotelli landed, his right foot came back and caught Parker in the face.

Referees have to decide if the contact was deliberate and usually consider whether contact would have been avoided if the player on the ground had been a team-mate.

Replays were not definitive; Balotelli probably could have avoided that second contact but they also show that Webb might have looked away at the crucial moment.

Hero: Balotelli slotted home from the penalty spot to win it for City

Hero: Balotelli slotted home from the penalty spot to win it for City

If he did, which would have been a basic error for a referee with his experience, then the FA could ask Webb what he would have done had he seen the clash and Balotelli could be suspended again.

It is often said that the best referees are those who are not noticed, so massive credit to Mike Dean for his handling of the ‘8-2 revenge game’ at the Emirates Stadium.

He could have sent Alex Song off for his leading-arm challenge on Wayne Rooney or dismissed players from either side, Aaron Ramsey or Rafael Da Silva, but he delivered consistency with a good degree of common sense and should be noticed for such a mature performance.