Mario Balotelli set to avoid suspension after referee admits error on red card

Mario Balotelli is unlikely to serve a suspension for his red card in Nice's victory over Lorient after the referee admitted that he made an error in dismissing the Italy international.

Balotelli, 26, had fired home a spectacular 86th-minute goal, his fifth in three league games, to set Nice en route to a 2-1 victory that would take them back to the top of the Ligue 1 table.

But he then tangled with the visitors' Steven Moreira deep into added time.

Balotelli, who was earlier booked for removing his shirt during his goal celebration, initially looked as if he had made contact with Moreira's head, and was shown another yellow card by referee Olivier Thual and consequently the first red card of his career in France.

The dismissal meant Balotelli would have been suspended for Nice's next league game against Lyon.

But after reviewing the incident, Thual, 40, has changed his mind, according to referees' technical director Pascal Garibian.

"Olivier Thual has watched the match. Of course he agreed the two yellow cards [for Balotelli and Moreira] were shown hastily and should not have been given," Garibian said. "The referee is at the disposition of the Disciplinary Commission to say it officially. It will be up to them to decide on what action should then be taken."

The French Football League's Disciplinary Commission will meet on Thursday to discuss the matter.

After the game, Nice coach Lucien Favre said he struggled to understand the original decision.

"Honestly, from the dugout, I did not understand at all what happened," he said.

"It seems Mario did nothing, no bad gesture. I only saw it again on a small screen. I'll have to look at it calmly and see what happened, if something did happen."