Balotelli Off Mark as City Take 1-0 Lead in Europa League TieBy: Thad | August 19th, 2010
Substitute Mario Balotelli provided the entertainment as his winner (circa 70th minute) allowed City to take 1-0 advantage in its tie against Timisoara of Romania Thursday evening.
The goal came on a close range tap-in following a good cross by Emmanuel Adebayor. The goal capped a sustained spell of City pressure–minutes earlier Balotelli had found side netting from no more than 3 yards (at a tight angle), and YaYa Toure had rattled the post from about 8 yards.
City had two more great chances later in the match. YaYa Toure’s fine feint set himself up for an open shot from about six yards, but it was saved. Then Jo failed to control Adebayor’s pass and a chance to shoot in what would have been virtually an open net. Balotelli did recover the pass but his shot went over.
All in all a good start for the Italian (who did pick up a knock right on the full time whistle, but one that does not look serious), and a big step for City towards qualification for the Europa League group stage. The second leg is next week in Manchester.
City’s starting lineup consisted of Hart, Lescott (at left back in lieu of the injured Kolarov and Bridge), Kompany, Toure, Zabaleta (in for Richards), Toure, De Jong, Barry, Silva, Adebayor and Tevez. Balotelli was the first sub, coming in for Silva, followed by Adam Johnson for Barry and Jo for Tevez. The tall, physically imposing lineup of Jo, Adebayor, Balotelli, and Y Toure on the pitch the last ten minutes was an interesting sight, and indeed created some problems, though I doubt this is a sight we will be seeing often this year.
City never looked liked conceding, though there were a couple of unconvincing penalty shouts over the course of the match against Zabaleta, and although City did have to defend some free kicks deep in their own half in the match’s dying moments.
City of course are a long way from clicking on all cylinders, but today was a good step forward, as well as the first of what hopefully will be many City goals for Super Mario.