Manchester City 3-2 Tottenham Hotspur


Mario Balotelli netted from the penalty spot in the closing minutes to give Manchester City a late lead against third-place Spurs



By Alex Byrom
Deputy Football Editor at the Etihad Stadium


A dramatic penalty five minutes into stoppage time from substitute Mario Balotelli won a pulsating match for City against Spurs to keep them three points clear of United in second.

Goals from Samir Nasri and defender Joleon Lescott had put City in command with a two-goal cushion, before another mistake by Stefan Savic gifted Jermaine Defoe a goal back for the visitors before Gareth Bale, recently voted in the UEFA team of the year, scored a memorable equaliser to put Spurs back on level terms. And as the game flowed from one end to the other, moments after Defoe missed a sitter for Tottenham, captain Ledley King made his one mistake of the game when misjudging a long ball forward and brought down Balotelli for a Manchester City penalty which the Italian calmly scored past Friedel in the dying seconds to send City six points of their rivals who then reduced the gap by beating Arsenal 2-1 at the Emirates later in the day.

It could have been argued as to whether bad boy Balotelli should have been on the pitch at the time after his booking for a late challenge on Kaboul then on 84 minutes stamped on Scott Parker's head. Referee Howard Webb gave a free kick, but only the referee will know why the red card wasn't branished for an inexeplicable challenge from a man with a past history: 16 yellows and 3 red cards since joining City a little over a year ago.

City, on the back of just two wins in seven games in all competitions, made just one change to the side with Micah Richards back in defence to captain the side and Pablo Zabaleta dropping to the bench. Whilst Tottenham welcomed back skipper Ledley King after missing the last six games with his injuries to replace the stricken Michael Dawson while Jermain Defoe came in for the ineligible Emmanuel Adebayor- on loan at Spurs for the season from Manchester City.


Before this game, Manchester City had conceded just four goals this season at the Etihad Stadium in the Premier League- the best home defence in the division.In an uninspiring first half, both sides seemed well-organised, disciplined and cagey not wanting to give anything away: Tottenham were comfortable on the ball, whilst City were a lot better going forward rather than backwards. The only notable efforts in the drab first half at goal came from Edin Dzeko, who had another lackadaisical performance, when he got in the way of star striker Sergio Aguero, who would surely have finished off Silva's cute pull back. 

On the half hour, Richards dispossessed Parker and then fed Aguero in acres of space but the Argentine's shot was straight at Spurs keeper Brad Friedel. When City won 5-1 at White Hart Lane earlier in the year, Dzeko netted four goals but he looked toothless today against the superb, coolness of Ledley King and the unique strength of Kaboul and it was no surprise when Balotelli replaced him in the second half.

But the game came to life in the second period after a goalless first period with four goals coming in the space of ten extraordinary minutes. First City found themselves 2-0 up when David Silva freed Samir Nasri with a perfectly executed pass, splitting the Spurs defence in half, and Nasri fired in - his seventh goal against Tottenham since joining the Premier League in August 2008. And just three minutes later, the Frenchman's corner was flicked on at the near post by the only contribution of Dzeko's afternoon and defender Lescott ran in at pace and managed to bundle the ball over the line to double the lead in quick-fire time.



Tottenham have only lost two of their last ten league matches away from home despite losing this one- while they have been beaten in their last three encounters against City having been beaten only once in the previous fifteen meetings by the Blues before that.

City, who have had a tendency in recent weeks to concede goals, sure enough almost straight from the kick off gave away a goal when Savic's poor backheader put Defoe through on goal with the striker rounding his England colleague Hart to tap into an empty net to make it game back on. It certainly was back on when Gareth Bale equalised superbly. Aaron Lennon played a delicately weighted ball back to the Welsh international Bale who curled it beautifully over Joe Hart into the roof of the net to delight the travelling Spurs supporters. Tottenham pushed forward again with City indebted to their goalkeeper Hart who had to be alert to stop Lennon's left foot shot.

In the final ten minutes came drama and controversy. Balotelli, already booked for a wild lunge on Kaboul, stood on Parker's head. Wolves captain Karl Henry was sent off for a similar challenge yesterday against Aston Villa and Tottenham were awarded a free kick meaning referee Howard Webb obviously saw something afoot. The Italian striker will be counting his lucky stars that he had not been shown a straight red card for the incident.

A minute into stoppage time, Spurs must have thought that they had won the game in a nutshell when countering on the break, Bale- who has assisted more goals for the visitors this season than any other player- galloped away and just slightly overhit his cross with Defoe sliding in at the back post but could only put it wide of the target much to the dismay of Harry Redknapp on the sidelines. Then came the decisive moment five minutes into added time when Assou-Ekotto could have let the ball go out of play instead he hooved it forward aimlessly straight to Lescott.

The City man thumped it back down field where Ledley King misjudged the bounce and ended up on the wrong side of Balotelli, who he then brought down for the referee to give a penalty and 'Mr Cool' himself Balotelli to keep up his 100% penalty record for the Blues and send the stadium into ecstasy. What can one say? Unbelievable.


Alex Byrom
The Football Site-  Deputy Football Editor



Sunday 22nd January 2012

Barclays Premier League

The Etihad Stadium


Manchester City 3-2 Tottenham Hotspur                        KO 1:30pm              (HT 0-0)

Nasri 56                    Defoe 60
Lescott 59                 Bale 65
Balotelli 90+5 (pen)


Manchester City:  25 Hart- 7.5/10, 2 Richards (C)- 7.5/10, 6 Lescott- 7.5/10, 15 Savic- 5.5/10, 22 Clichy- 7/10, 7 Milner- 6.5/10, 18 Barry- 6.5/10, 21 Silva- 7.5/10, 19 Nasri- 7/10, 10 Dzeko- 6.5/10 (Balotelli 65- 3.5/10), 16 Aguero- 8/10.

Subs not used:  30 Pantilimon, 5 Zabaleta, 24 Onuoha, 13 Kolarov, 34 De Jong, 11 Johnson

Booked:      Clichy (10), Balotelli (79)


Tottenham:  24 Friedel- 7.5/10, 28 Walker- 7.5/10, 4 Kaboul- 7.5/10, 26 King (C)- 8.5/10, 32 Assou-Ekotto- 6.5/10, 7 Lennon- 6.5/10 (Pienaar 88- 2/10), 8 Parker- 7.5/10, 14 Modric- 7.5/10, 3 Bale- 8/10, 11 Van der Vaart- 6.5/10 (Livermore 67- 4/10), 18 Defoe- 7.5/10.

Subs not used:  23 Cudicini, 19 Bassong, 20 Dawson, 21 Kranjcar, 9 Pavlyuchenko 

Booked:      Parker (52)

My Man of the Match:    Ledley King (Tottenham Hotspur)- Rating 8.5/10

My Poorest Performer of the Match:    Stefan Savic (Manchester City)- Rating 5.5/10


Referee: Howard Webb MBE (South Yorkshire)- 7.5/10
Attendance: 47,422



Match Facts

Possession: Manchester City- 55%                 Tottenham- 45%

Shots: Manchester City- 13                     Tottenham- 12

Shots on target: Manchester City- 7                    Tottenham- 7

Shots off target: Manchester City- 6                    Tottenham- 5

Corners: Manchester City- 9                       Tottenham- 4

Fouls: Manchester City- 7                      Tottenham- 10

Offside: Manchester City- 1                      Tottenham- 2

Assists: Manchester City- Silva, Dzeko                 Tottenham- Kaboul, Lennon



Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini

"We were in control at 2-0 and just had a lapse in concentration which cost us two goals- albeit there isn't a lot we could have done about the second goal which was a terrific finish. We then had to win the game all over again. We were caught for the first goal by a poor error- we are delighted with the win of course but we have made it clear to the players in no uncertain terms that we need to iron out these mistakes if we are to achieve what we want to achieve this season. The first half was a poor one to watch for everybody and it never really got going in truth- it was more tactical than open. In the second half, it was a lot better in terms of how attacking it was. The last few minutes were dramatic where we thought we had lost it when they counter attacked and Gareth Bale is putting it across the box and Defoe is at the backpost. Then up at the other end, we get a penalty in the last minute to win it for us with Mario (Balotelli) who has got the ability to stick the penalty away so confidently. As far as the Balotelli incident went,, I never saw anything live and there was nothing from the players live either. Until we have seen it we cannot really comment. What we are aware of from the last month is that different TV angles can show different things."

Click here for the interview with City first-team coach David Platt after the game



Tottenham Hotspur manager Harry Redknapp

"It is hard to take a defeat in those circumstances- conceding a winner to a 95th minute penalty. I thought it was incredibly harsh on our players today who gave everything they had and they didn't deserve that to happen to them in such a cruel fashion. I have no complaints with the decision unfortunately Ledley (King) has been caught wrong side and has brought him down. It was his only bad thing in the game today because he played exceptionally well in defence for us. The way we came back was terrific after letting in those two goals. In terms of the Balotelli stamp, it is up to their manager [Roberto Mancini] to deal with it. I have got my own opinions but I don't like people kicking other people in the head on football pitches. I don't think it's wrong to say that. Why you should backheel someone in the head when they are lying on the floor is beyond me. It's not a nice thing to do. The first one could have been an accident, but on the second one he's backheeled him straight in the head. It is not the first time he has done that and I am sure it won't be the last. I am the last person to talk about getting people sent off and what they should and shouldn't do. But it is blatant. He reacts to challenges like that at times. Scott has got a cut on his head."

Click here for the full interview with Spurs boss Harry Redknapp after the game 


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