By William Wood | In Match Reports - Away Games
Mario Balotelli made a dream start to his Manchester City career as he came off the bench to net the winner in the side’s Europa League play-off first leg against FC Timisoara.
A close encounter, which Micah watched from his place on the bench, looked set to end goal-less with the Premier League side unable to break their opponents down.
But Balotelli, who completed his move from Inter Milan earlier this week, handed Roberto Mancini a major boost with the winner in the last 20 minutes.
It was Timisoara who started the brightest of the two sides, and Alexandru Curtean felt he should have had a penalty having been felled by Pablo Zabaleta with 14 minutes gone.
However, the referee waved away the protests, and at the other end Carlos Tevez went close with a free-kick after half an hour.
The rest of the half saw tit-for-tat exchanges though neither of the sides could dominate, and City certainly looked a yard off the pace.
Mircea Axente went close in the second half after he was released clean through on goal though in-form Joe Hart always looked equal to it, and with the hosts gaining in confidence Mancini opted to shift things around, introducing Balotelli.
The change cranked up the pressure on the Romanian outfit, with Balotelli going close with a shot that eventually wound up in the side-netting.
A Yaya Toure thunderbolt followed soon after though the Ivory Coast international saw his wonderful effort rebound off the post.
However, just as City’s evening looked fated, Balotelli kept a cool head to guide the ball home from close range and edge the Eastlanders in front, and there was to be no return from Timisoara as City earned a hard-fought victory.
Pantilimon, Luchin, Alexa, Curtean, Sepsi,Scutaru (Zicu 69), Magera, Contra (Mera 80), Cisovsky, Bourceanu Unused subs: Taboroda, Mera, Popovic, Goga, Dukic, Zicu, Popardu
Hart, Zabaleta, Kompany, K Toure, Lescott, de Jong, Y Toure, Barry (Balotelli 55), Silva (A Johnson 64), Tevez (Jo 77), Adebayor. Unused subs:
Given, Richards, Wright-Phillips, Vieira
FC Timisora: None
Manchester City: Balotelli (71’)