Kolarov: I had to fight off Balotelli to take free-kick against Sunderland

Manchester City defender Aleksander Kolarov has revealed he had to fight off team-mate Mario Balotelli to take the fifth-minute free-kick with which he put his side ahead against Sunderland on Saturday.

It is not the first time that the two players have clashed over a set-piece, with an angry altercation occuring during the same fixture last season prior to a free-kick which Kolarov also scored.

However, the former Lazio player insisted the exchange with the Italian was less heated this time around.

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"I knew where I wanted to put it… I told Mario that if he shoots then it would be more difficult for him to score because of the position," Kolarov told Manchester City's official website.

"So I said ‘maybe if I can take it, I will score’ and I scored – it was a normal conversation."

The 26-year-old was named man of the match for his contribution to the Premier League champions' 3-0 win over Martin O'Neill's side.

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