Liverpool fans had to restrain Mario Balotelli to prevent their side from going down to nine men in a stormy match against Manchester United on Sunday.

[GERRARD SENT OFF AFTER 43 SECONDS AGAINST UNITED]

Captain Steven Gerrard had already been sent off just 43 seconds after his arrival as a second-half substitute for stamping on Ander Herrera.

And Balotelli looked in danger of losing control too, being booked almost immediately for a foul on Phil Jones.

[MATCH REPORT: JUAN MATA WONDER SHOW STUNS LIVERPOOL]

The notoriously temperamental Liverpool striker was then involved in a flashpoint with Chris Smalling.

A challenge from Smalling sent Balotelli into the advertising hoardings at Anfield and he looked keen to confront the United defender as he rose from the floor, grabbing at his ankle.

Thankfully for Liverpool, some quick-thinking fans held Balotelli back and any danger of a second booking evaporated.