Premier League - Balotelli brace and red in City win
Sun, 07 Nov 17:03:00 2010
Mario Balotelli scored twice before being sent off as Manchester City ended their three-game losing streak with a solid 2-0 win at West Brom.
The former Internazionale striker, signed for a whopping £24million during the summer, converted the opener from close range on 20 minutes as he bundled home Carlos Tevez's cross before turning Gabriel Tamas to fire home the second six minutes later.
The shine was taken off Balotelli's big return to the side when he was sent off for aiming a boot at the grounded Youssouf Mulumbu on 62 minutes for no apparent reason.
West Brom toiled to make their one-man advantage count before Mulumbu was ordered off for a second yellow on 81 minutes after a cynical late tackle on Tevez to all but bury home hopes of avoiding defeat.
Roberto Mancini's side were desperate for a win after successive Premier League defeats to Arsenal, Wolves and a Europa League loss at Lech Poznan on Thursday.
Apart from the moment Balotelli appeared to take leave of his senses by kicking out at Mulumbu, City bossed this game from start to finish.
They should have won with more to spare against a home team who are suddenly discovering the harsh realities of life in the Premier League.
To say there was a gulf in class between these two sides, would be an understatement.
City join Arsenal in third place on 20 points courtesy of this win and a shock home defeat for Arsene Wenger's side against Newcastle at the Emirates.
They are now only three points behind city rivals Manchester United, despite media reports of unhappy players and alleged dressing room unrest at Eastlands.
Preferred to Emmanuel Adebayor, Balotelli ensured there would no more misery for City at The Hawthorns, a venue where they had lost on their previous four visits.
Kolo Toure almost knocked into his own net on three minutes under pressure from Chris Brunt, but it was a rare moment of unease for the visiting side.
With West Brom pegged back and City binging on large dollops of possession, they deservedly struck when the impish David Silva set up Tevez who crossed for Balotelli to steer the ball beyond Scott Carson.
Silva was the provider again for the second goal as he picked out Balotelli, who outmuscled Tamas with far too much simplicity before firing a low shot into the bottom right-hand corner of Carson's net.
It was game over even at that stage, but City had other chances to increase their advantage when Tevez walloped a free-kick over around the half-hour mark before better control by Jerome Boateng would surely have snared a third goal on 53 minutes after he was played in by Silva.
West Brom tried manfully to break down the visiting side's towering defence.
The nearest they came to a goal was a Simon Cox effort that hit a post from distance while the superb Silva prevented an own goal when he whacked Boateng's header off his line moments after Balotelli had been sent packing.
Joe Hart made a fine stop to swat over iNcky Shorey's effort from a free-kick, but only some frantic defending denied City a third goal.
Mancini's team continued to pose a major threat, even when they were reduced to 10 men.Eurosport