Mario Balotelli is ready to anoint himself the unlikely saviour of Manchester City's troubled strike-force after a razor-sharp performance in the 4-0 win over Blackburn at Ewood Park.

With Carlos Tevez suspended and Edin Dzeko dropped to the bench after the midweek controversy in Munich, the often controversial Balotelli is now being held up as a model of consistency.

Balotelli, who was preferred to the Bosnian in City's starting line-up, capped a superb individual performance when he stole in front of Steven Nzonzi to stab home his side's second on the hour.

Adam Johnson had given City the lead three minutes earlier, and later goals from Samir Nasri and Stefan Savic heaped more woe on beleaguered Blackburn boss Steve Kean, with a large section of fans calling for his head.

In the post-match absence of City boss Roberto Mancini, first-team coach David Plat said: "What Mario has been doing in the last six or seven weeks is (finding) consistency in his training.

"Mario has had a lot of column inches in the last 12 months and a lot of it has been negative. All the criticism he has got is fine but now I think he deserves the plaudits as well.

"He came on last week and opened the goalscoring up and produced a performance, and also his performance today had a lot more maturity about it. It doesn't surprise me because his concentration levels have been very high."

While Platt admits City's most difficult matchday decision is which of their multi-million pound strikers to leave out, Balotelli's re-emergence is timely with Tevez frozen out and Sergio Aguero limping off with a groin strain.

Platt said Aguero's injury was not as bad as first thought, although it is expected to keep him out of Argentina's World Cup qualifier against Chile in Buenos Aires next weekend.

Copyright (c) PA Sport 2009, All Rights Reserved.

Topics:
Football
Manchester City
Premier League
Mario Balotelli