Balotelli marks debut with winning goal for City

FC Timisoara 0 Manchester City 1

Mario Balotelli made a dream debut for Manchester City with the winning goal against FC Timisoara in the Europa League play-off first leg.

The former Inter Milan striker stepped off the bench to stun Timisoara and hand his side the advantage going into the return game next Thursday at Eastlands.

Balotelli, 20, proved to be a handful and has already repaid the first part of his reported £24million transfer fee.

After a slow start on a humid night, England's biggest spenders were good value for the victory thanks to a positive second half performance.

Urged on by a large partisan crowd, Timisoara opened with confidence and sprayed the ball about well.

The home fans screamed for a penalty after 14 minutes when Alexandru Curtean went to ground following a challenge from Pablo Zabaleta.

German referee Florian Mayer ignored their pleas and had no hesitation in waving play on.

City, with a small pocket of supporters backing them, were taking their time getting into the game. Carlos Tevez was dropping deep on occasions, leaving Emmanuel Adebayor up front on his own.

Roberto Mancini's side then won a free-kick 25 yards out in the 30th minute after David Silva was tripped by Alexandru Bourceanu.

Tevez stepped up and tried to float his effort beyond Costel Pantilimon but the goalkeeper saved at the post.

Play switched back down the other end and Cosmin Contra cracked in a shot from an acute angle that was deflected to safety.

City, however, were beginning to look dangerous and David Silva picked out Tevez at the back post.

He tried to chest the ball into the path of Adebayor but his pass was intercepted and the move broke down.

Srgian Luchin became the first player to be booked with a stiff challenge on Tevez that left the striker hobbling.

Tevez dusted himself down and picked out Gareth Barry a minute before half-time with the midfielder lurking on the edge of the area.

He was about to shoot only for Luchin to show good positioning and take the ball off his toes.

City were on the front foot at the start of the second half and Adebayor found Zabaleta on the edge of the area. He tried his luck on goal only for his effort to finish nearer the corner flag.

Back came Timisoara and Dan Alexa slipped a glorious through ball to Mircea Axente in the 51st minute.

The striker whipped in a shot but Joe Hart got down quickly to make a comfortable save.

Mancini decided to switch things around and handed Balotelli his debut in the 57th minute when the 20-year-old replaced Gareth Barry.

The Italian's arrival improved City's attacking options as they went in search of an important away goal.

Silva had put in a hard shift and was taken off in the 66th minute with Adam Johnson coming on.

City were beginning to put the pressure on and Balotelli found the side netting a minute later after a misplaced overhead kick by Tevez.

Then Yaya Toure's thunderbolt came back off the post following a corner from Balotelli as Timisoara began to buckle.

City made the breakthrough with Balotelli showing a cool head to sweep the ball home from close range after being set up by Adebayor.

It was just the boost City were looking for with the second leg to come next Thursday at Eastlands and they are now favourites to progress to the group stages.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory
Ashes 2015: Alastair Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Cook not the only one to be caught in The Oval mindwarp

Aussie skipper Michael Clarke was lured into believing that what we witnessed at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge would continue in London, says Kevin Garside
Can Rafael Benitez get the best out of Gareth Bale at Real Madrid?

Can Benitez get the best out of Bale?

Back at the club he watched as a boy, the pressure is on Benitez to find a winning blend from Real's multiple talents. As La Liga begins, Pete Jenson asks if it will be enough to stop Barcelona
Athletics World Championships 2015: Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson heptathlon rivalry

Beijing witnesses new stage in the Jess and Kat rivalry

The last time the two British heptathletes competed, Ennis-Hill was on the way to Olympic gold and Johnson-Thompson was just a promising teenager. But a lot has happened in the following three years
Jeremy Corbyn: Joining a shrewd operator desperate for power as he visits the North East

Jeremy Corbyn interview: A shrewd operator desperate for power

His radical anti-austerity agenda has caught the imagination of the left and politically disaffected and set a staid Labour leadership election alight
Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief: Defender of ancient city's past was killed for protecting its future

Isis executes Palmyra antiquities chief

Robert Fisk on the defender of the ancient city's past who was killed for protecting its future