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Barclays Premier League

Etihad Stadium (ATT 47,422) 22nd January 2012 - Kick off 13:30 Ref: H Webb

Man City Manchester City vs Tottenham Hotspur Tottenham

Man City 3

S Nasri (56)
J Lescott (59)
M Balotelli (pen 90+5)

ft

Tottenham 2

J Defoe (60)
G Bale (65)

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Balotelli on the spot

Last-gasp penalty gives City victory over Spurs in five-goal thriller

Last Updated: 23/01/12 9:07pm

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Mario Balotelli fired home from the penalty spot in the fifth minute of added time as Manchester City edged out Tottenham in a five-goal thriller at the Etihad Stadium.

Man of the match: David Silva. Proved to be the difference between the sides with his clever runs, vision and range of passing. Moment of the match: The awarding of a late penalty to City finally settled a rollercoaster game. Attempt of the match: With time almost up, Gareth Bale put over a low cross to the far post which Jermain Defoe met at full stretch, but could only guide wide of the City post from two yards out. Save of the match: Sergio Aguero only had one clear sight of goal but veteran keeper Brad Friedel narrowed the angle and saved with his knees. Talking point: Was Balotelli lucky to stay on the pitch after his clash with Scott Parker? The fine margins between losing and wining. Defoe could have made it 3-2 to Spurs, but it was City who secured victory deep in stoppage time. Goal of the game: Gareth Bale's leveller for Spurs saw him meet the ball first-time and curl it into the top corner.

Spurs looked set to become the first side to deny Roberto Mancini's league leaders victory on their own turf in the Premier League until Ledley King was penalised for pulling down Balotelli and the Italian substitute stepped up to beat Brad Friedel.

The previously unremarkable contest burst into life with an astonishing spell of four goals in 10 second-half minutes, beginning when David Silva's precision defence-splitting pass was lashed home first time beyond Friedel by Samir Nasri (56).

Moments later the home fans were in raptures when Nasri's corner from left was flicked on by Edin Dzeko at the near post and bundled into the net by Joleon Lescott as he fell over under pressure from Scott Parker.

But Spurs immediately responded as Younes Kaboul's long ball out of defence was badly dealt with by young centre-back Stefan Savic, allowing Jermain Defoe to burst clear, round Joe Hart and roll home.

And then Gareth Bale, who was linked with an staggering £150million switch to City in the Sunday papers, levelled in stunning fashion as he swept home Aaron Lennon's pass across the edge of the box with a curling first-time finish that gave Hart not a prayer.

Defoe came within inches of securing a last-gasp victory when Savic gave the ball away again, but the striker was unable to turn Bale's pass into the empty net at the far post with the goal gaping, before King's blunder handed all the headlines to Balotelli, who was earlier fortunate to avoid sanction for clashing with Scott Parker.

The victory piles the pressure on City's rivals, who are all playing catch-up, with Spurs now eight points adrift of top spot.

Excelled

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 Hart into a meaningful save in the opening 45 minutes, Parker and 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 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 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.

Spectacular

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 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 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 when his boot caught the head of his prone opponent 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.

Manchester CityTeam StatisticsTottenham Hotspur
3Goals2
01st Half Goals0
4Shots on Target3
5Shots off Target6
7Blocked Shots5
9Corners4
9Fouls10
1Offsides2
2Yellow Cards1
0Red Cards0
84Passing Success82.1
23Tackles23
78.3Tackles Success56.5
53.3Possession46.7
57.6Territorial Advantage42.4
512Total Passes452
23Total Crosses11
151Lost Balls148
61Recoveries59
48.21st Half Poss.51.8
59.92nd Half Poss.40.1

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Table

Barclays Premier League

Barclays Premier League
Pos Team P Pts
1 Chelsea 5 13
2 Southampton 5 10
3 Aston Villa 5 10
4 Arsenal 5 9
5 Swansea City 5 9
6 Manchester City 5 8
7 Leicester City 5 8
8 West Ham United 5 7
9 Tottenham Hotspur 5 7
10 Hull City 5 6
11 Liverpool 5 6
12 Manchester United 5 5
13 Stoke City 5 5
14 Everton 5 5
15 Crystal Palace 5 5
16 West Bromwich Albion 5 5
17 Sunderland 5 4
18 Queens Park Rangers 5 4
19 Burnley 5 3
20 Newcastle United 5 3

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