Man City edge five-goal thriller with Balotelli penalty

Manchester City 3 Tottenham 2

Mario Balotelli's injury-time penalty saw Manchester City edge a five-goal thriller with Tottenham.

But there could be a nasty sting in the tail for the Italian after he seemed to catch Scott Parker in the face with a needless kick.

Not that any disciplinary problems will bother City's supporters as they celebrated what could be a priceless victory in the title race.

After a goalless first half, the Blues were in control when Samir Nasri and Joleon Lescott struck.

But Jermain Defoe profited from Stefan Savic's mistake almost immediately before Gareth Bale levelled with a magnificent curling shot.

Spurs seemed more likely winners after that.

But when Defoe could only turn an injury-time Bale cross narrowly wide as he slid in at the far-post, it gave Balotelli a chance to win the match after he had been fouled by Ledley King.

It maintained City's 100% home record this season and piles the pressure on their rivals, who are all playing catch-up.

Knowing they would be eight points behind if they lost and with personal knowledge of the havoc City are capable of causing following that humiliating 5-1 defeat in August, Tottenham had good cause to make it a tight affair.

Bale threatened on a couple of occasions, and should have made more of the position he found himself in when he checked inside James Milner's sliding tackle.

But Tottenham did not force Joe Hart into a meaningful save in the opening 45 minutes, Scott Parker and Younes Kaboul both firing well wide with long-range efforts.

It took City some time to get going, and even then they were only a sporadic threat.

However, in Sergio Aguero they had the game's most obvious first goalscorer.

The club record £38million front-man has looked tired in recent games as he attempted to shoulder the goalscoring burden. Here though, he excelled.

Having had Edin Dzeko nick the ball off his foot when he was lining up a shot at Wigan on Monday, the South American must have been dismayed when the same team-mate got in the way of his efforts to turn home David Silva's cutback.

Aguero's best opportunity came not long afterwards.

 



In attempting to pass their way out of a tight spot by the touchline, Spurs only ended up getting themselves into trouble as Micah Richards thundered into Parker to seize possession.

Richards strode on into the box, then squared for Aguero, whose shot was superbly turned away by Friedel.

Of the millions of pounds splashed out last summer - and with more set to follow in the last nine days of this transfer window - the signing of a 40-year-old American may turn out to be the most astute.

Silva also fired across the face of Friedel's goal - but it was in the second half that the action started in earnest.

In truth, though it ended with a spectacular equaliser from Bale, City boss Roberto Mancini would have been disappointed with the four-goal burst in the space of 10 minutes because it saw his side toss away a winning position.

City took the lead thanks to Silva's brilliant through-ball, which coincided perfectly with Nasri's dash from the left touchline that went completely unchecked even though it took him through the heart of the visitors' defence. The former Arsenal man has his critics but the shot which beat Friedel was blistering and gave the American no chance.

On their next attack, City doubled their advantage as Lescott first stood on Nasri's corner, then, from barely a yard, somehow sent the ball trundling over the line as he fell.

It should have been all over.

That it wasn't was due to Savic's bizarre attempt to reach Hart with a 50-yard back header that succeeded only in letting in Defoe, who rounded Hart, then turned the ball into an empty net.

Bale's blockbuster came five minutes later, one of those goals a keeper can only shrug their shoulders at being beaten by, the Welshman's brilliant first-time curling effort from Aaron Lennon's square pass finding the roof of Hart's net.

The goal frenzy triggered the arrival of Balotelli, who had already been shown the yellow card when he tangled with Parker, the initial contact accidental, the second far less easy to excuse.

That he should remain on the pitch was a matter for Spurs to reflect on as the Italian coolly converted his penalty to delight the City fans.

PA

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Avatar grossed $2.8bn at the box office after its release in 2009
filmJames Cameron is excited
News
news

Lincoln MP Karl McCartney 'denied all knowledge' of the Twitter activity

Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
filmDirector said film would 'never have been financed' with ethnic minority actors in key roles
Arts and Entertainment
Stik on the crane as he completed the mural
art
Life and Style
View of champagne glasses at a beach bar set up along the Croisette during the 66th edition of the Cannes Film Festival in Cannes on May 17, 2013
food + drink(and for now, there's a clear winner)
News
The author PD James, who died on 27 November 2014
people

Detective novelist who wrote Death comes to Pemberley passed away peacefully at her home, aged 94

Arts and Entertainment
Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1
arts + ents
Life and Style
tech

Sites using the popular Gigya comment platform were attacked by the Syrian Electronic Army (SEA)

Extras
indybest
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
An unseen image of Kurt Cobain at home featured in the film 'Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck'
film
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game
There's a Good Girl exhibition: How female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising

In pictures: There's a Good Girl exhibition

The new exhibition reveals how female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising
UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover - from advent calendars to doll's houses

UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover

It worked with cupcakes, doughnuts and macarons so no wonder someone decided to revamp the humble biscuit
Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

It's no surprise that the building game born in Sweden in 2009 and now played by millions, has imitators keen to construct their own mega money-spinner
The King's School is way ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology

Staying connected: The King's School

The school in Cambridgeshire is ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology. Richard Garner discovers how teachers and pupils stay connected
Christmas 2014: 23 best women's perfumes

Festively fragrant: the best women's perfumes

Give a loved one a luxe fragrance this year or treat yourself to a sensual pick-me-up
Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition

Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund

The Ox celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition
Billy Joe Saunders vs Chris Eubank Jnr: When two worlds collide

When two worlds collide

Traveller Billy Joe Saunders did not have a pampered public-school upbringing - unlike Saturday’s opponent Chris Eubank Jnr
Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?