Balotelli quick off mark to put City in the ascendancy

FC Timisoara 0 Manchester City 1

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

The former Internazionale striker stepped off the bench to 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 £24m transfer fee.

The City manager, Roberto Mancini, said: "He had a great debut and I am happy that he scored. He is a good player. He needs to improve, of course, and get to know everybody." But after Balotelli had picked up a booking for losing his cool Mancini also warned: "We must work on this with him because it will be different in the Premier League than in Italy."

The manager had made three changes to his side, with Pablo Zabaleta, Joleon Lescott and Emmanuel Adebayor all returning.

Urged on by a large, partisan crowd on a balmy night, Timisoara opened with confidence and sprayed the ball about well. City responded and captain Carlos Tevez tried to release Adebayor in the 13th minute but put too much weight on the pass.

There was a scare for Mancini's side when Kolo Touré was poleaxed by Alexandru Bourceanu's shot. But Touré made a rapid recovery.

Timisoara had the first real chance of the second half as Dan Alexa slipped a glorious through-ball to Mircea Axente. The striker whipped in a shot but Hart got down quickly to save.

Mancini handed Balotelli his debut in the 57th minute when the 20-year-old replaced Gareth Barry. Balotelli found the side netting a minute later after a misplaced overhead kick by Tevez. Then Yaya Touré's thunderbolt came back off the post following a corner from Balotelli.

City finally made the breakthrough when Balotelli showed a cool head to sweep the ball home from close in after being set up by Adebayor.

FC Timisoara (4-4-2): Pantilimon; Luchin, Scutaru (Zicu, 71), Cisovsky, Sepsi; Contra (Mera, 80), Alexa, Bourceanu, Curtean; Magera (Goga, 83), Axente. Substitutes not used Taborda (gk), Popovic, Dukic, Poparadu.

Manchester City (4-4-2): Hart; Lescott, Kompany, K Touré, Zabaleta; Barry (Balotelli, 57), Y Touré, Silva (A Johnson, 66), De Jong; Tevez (Jo, 77), Adebayor. Substitutes not used Given (gk), Richards, Wright-Phillips, Vieira.

Referee F Meyer (Germany).

Arts and Entertainment
Joe Cocker performing on the Stravinski hall stage during the Montreux Jazz Festival, in Montreux, Switzerland in 2002
musicHe 'turned my song into an anthem', says former Beatle
News
Clarke Carlisle
sport
Sport
footballStoke City vs Chelsea match report
Arts and Entertainment
theatreThe US stars who've taken to UK panto, from Hasselhoff to Hall
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Approaching sale shopping in a smart way means that you’ll get the most out of your money
life + styleSales shopping tips and tricks from the experts
News
newsIt was due to be auctioned off for charity
News
Coca-Cola has become one of the largest companies in the world to push staff towards switching off their voicemails, in a move intended to streamline operations and boost productivity
peopleCoca-Cola staff urged to switch it off to boost productivity
Environment
Sir David Attenborough
environment... as well as a plant and a spider
Voices
'That's the legal bit done. Now on to the ceremony!'
voicesThe fight for marriage equality isn't over yet, says Siobhan Fenton
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there