Champions League - Toure brace as City sink Villarreal
Manchester City became the first English side to win away at Villarreal as Yaya Toure scored twice in a 3-0 victory that puts Roberto Mancini's side in second place in Champions League Group A.
Toure opened the scoring against a Villarreal side ravaged by injury with an accomplished finish after 30 minutes before Mario Balotelli won and then converted a somewhat contentious penalty in first-half injury time, much to the fury of the home fans at El Madrigal, for his seventh goal in seven games.
With another former La Liga luminary, David Silva, again excelling for a City side sweeping all before them in the Premier League this season, Toure ended the game as a contest after 71 minutes with a lovely third goal.
Silva was removed with a back injury that may be cause for concern ahead of Saturday's trip to QPR, but a very satisfactory evening for City - and a first away win in six in Europe - puts them in second place in Group A, three points behind Bayern Munich and two ahead of Napoli with both teams left to play.
Villarreal - desperately short of form and desperately short of players - offered disappointingly little in a defeat that spells the end of their participation in European football this season.
Despite recent travails, the Yellow Submarine were protecting an unbeaten home record against English clubs - with Middlesbrough, Everton, Arsenal and Manchester United all failing to storm El Madrigal - but were crippled by a run of injuries that deprived Juan Carlos Garrido of as many as eight members of his possible starting XI.
Such was the paucity of their options, particularly in the wake of the cruel knee injury that has seen Giuseppe Rossi sidelined for six months, Villarreal were forced to hand a first start to 20-year-old forward Joselu, who on Sunday was representing the club's B side.
The young man was largely isolated as the lone striker though in the early stages he latched onto two clever balls over the top from Jonathan De Guzman. On the first occasion his poor touch let him down and on the second he was correctly ruled offside before being accidentally caught by the arm of Stefan Savic.
Hernan Perez also forced Joe Hart into a smart save as Villarreal - bottom of the group with zero points from three games - started impressively in front of their home supporters, who have suffered so much after a start to the season that sees them only two points clear of relegation in La Liga.
However, they deteriorated quickly against a side in Manchester City that is currently dominating the Premier League, and in some style. Silva, as always, was imperious in possession, while Toure, pushed into the more advanced role that he was accustomed to last season, was also a menace in the centre of midfield.
The two combined for the opening goal after 30 minutes. Silva won the ball back high up the pitch and squared for Toure, who shifted his weight to shrug off Gonzalo Rodriguez and planted his firm shot past Diego Lopez and inside the far post.
City had failed to score in three away games in Europe before Toure's intervention, a run of 313 minutes in total, but their lead was doubled in first-half injury time as an unadventurous and under-strength Villarreal were punished by Balotelli.
He nutmegged Jose Catala on the edge of the box and then fell to ground after feeling the elbow of Mateo Musacchio on his arm. It was a somewhat contentious decision, and Villarreal protested vehemently, but there was contact and it was Balotelli himself who took the spot-kick, slotting past Lopez with customary calm.
In the country that is home to tiki-taka, City were content to stroke the ball about in the second half as they attempted to retain their grip on the game, with Spain international Silva at the heart of their approach with his intelligent use of the ball and clever movement.
However, the midfielder suffered a back injury and was replaced by Adam Johnson after 65 minutes. Even the Villarreal supporters showed their appreciation for a player who formerly represented their rivals Valencia as he departed the pitch, and worryingly for City Silva was wincing badly as he took his place on the bench.
City could not be knocked out of their swagger though and on 71 minutes killed off the game with a third.
Balotelli escaped down the right to collect a pass from Samir Nasri and then picked out Toure in the middle with a square pass. The Ivorian danced around Catala before slotting home past Lopez to secure an excellent result for the Premier League club.
A win in Naples on November 22 would now be enough to see City through to the knockout stages of the Champions League at the first time of asking.