Football

Balotelli late show sinks Spurs

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Why always me? Balotelli wins it from the spot. (©GettyImages)
Why always me? Balotelli wins it from the spot. (©GettyImages).

Manchester City survived a major scare against Tottenham Hotspur as striker Mario Balotelli came off the bench to win it 3-2 from the spot in injury-time.

After a first-half of few chances, the game sparked to life at the Etihad Stadium during nine mad minutes that saw four goals shared between the two teams.

Samir Nasri and Joleon Lescott put the hosts two goals ahead within three minutes, but Jermain Defoe and Gareth Bale leveled the match. And, as chances went either way in the final 25 minutes, it was 'Super Mario' who settled the contest in the final stages.

It was a scoreline that few would have predicted during the first period, in which Sergio Aguero appeared the most likely scorer, testing Brad Friedel only once of note during the opening 45 minutes.

Harry Redknapp would have been the happier of the two managers at the interval, with Spurs controlling possession for long periods and rarely looking threatened.

A piece of magic from David Silva broke the deadlock on 56 minutes though, with the Spanish playmaker sliding a through ball to Nasri, who smashed past Friedel from 16 yards after braking free from the impressive Kyle Walker.

Three minutes later, Lescott made it two when Silva's corner was flicked on by Edin Dzeko, and the England international bundled home as Scott Parker tried to clear his lines.

But, just moments later, Tottenham were straight back into the contest as Defoe capitalised on a Stefan Savic error, rounded goalkeeper Joe Hart and calmly slotted home.

Younes Kaboul launched a ball clear, and the Montenegro international mis-judged his header, allowing Defoe to burst clear and score.

The momentum had swung to the visitors, and sure enough they struck again on 65 minutes, as Aaron Lennon cut inside on the left and pulled the ball back to Bale, who struck a beautiful 20-yard curling strike out of Hart's reach in-front of the visiting supporters from north London.

Balotelli was immediately introduced, and could have seen red had referee Howard Webb spotted an apparent stamp on the head of Parker. The Italian had already been booked for a challenge on Benoit Assou-Ekotto, but his main involvement was still to come.

As the game entered stoppage-time, Defoe had the chance to win it as Bale burst clear in the box and rolled the ball across the six yard box. The former West Ham starlet could only get his studs to it at the far post though, as his effort rolled wide.

And, with time nearly up, Balotelli managed to latch onto a long ball in the box, and was set to pull the trigger before Spurs skipper Ledley King brought down the forward to hand him his chance of victory.

Balotelli didn't let manager Roberto Mancini down, beating Friedel to his right despite the 40-year-old diving in the right direction. City extended their lead to six points at the top of the table with the win, and are now eight ahead of Spurs.

Topics:
Tottenham Hotspur
Football
Manchester City
Premier League
Joleon Lescott
Jermain Defoe
Mario Balotelli
Gareth Bale
Samir Nasri
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