By Rhonda Richards | In Match Reports - Home Games
Manchester City snatched a dramatic late victory against title rivals Tottenham Hotspur in a five-goal thriller, with Mario Balotelli’s late penalty snatching a 3-2 win.
Micah was named captain and saw his side march into a two goal lead early in the second half, only for Harry Redknapp’s men to peg them back with quick fire goals of their own.
However, Balotelli marched into the Spurs penalty area with time ticking away and Ledley King was adjudged to have brought him down, with the Italian stepping up to coolly slot the ball away and take the three point.
Much had been made of this clash in the lead up, with City supposedly amidst the stickiest spell of their campaign and Spurs looking like the outside challengers for the Premier League crown. The first 20 minutes or so were, though, a tentative affair as the two teams seemingly sparred without landing any notable blows, with the first real half-chance falling to Sergio Aguero whose shot was blocked by team-mate Edin Dzeko.
Fine work down the right by Micah saw him dispossess Gareth Bale and play in Aguero once again, but Brad Friedel was equal to it, whilst several stern challenges flew in to remind both sets of players that it wasn’t going to be a comfortable afternoon.
The visitors will undoubtedly have been the happier of the two sides given that City have won all of their league games at the Etihad Stadium so far this season, but Roberto Mancini began the second-half with the same players on the pitch.
The decision seemed to pay off as City went out on the attack early doors, Dzeko seeing a dangerous cross palmed clear by Friedel and Micah’s follow-up ball in seemingly blocked by Benoit Assou-Ekotto. Soon after Spurs broke forward themselves and Gareth Bale missed a fine opportunity after a stirring run forward, slipping at the key moment as he lined up a shot.
The hosts finally found a way through, David Silva ever the architect as he cut open the Spurs defence and finding Samir Nasri who blasted home a shot first-time to make it 1-0, to the delight of the home faithful.
And like buses, City grabbed a second in quick succession as Nasri turned provider, swinging in a corner that Joleon Lescott bundled home to double the side’s advantage.
There’s an old adage about teams conceding straight after scorer, and so as City appeared to have seized a position of strength, Spurs pegged them back. A hopeful ball forward by Younes Kaboul was only partially dealt with by Stefan Savic, with his flicked header right in the path of Jermain Defoe who beat Joe Hart to the ball and fired into an open goal to make it 2-1 with 60 minutes played.
With Mancini’s men suddenly on the back foot, Spurs smelt blood and within four minutes they were level. Aaron Lennon burst down the left and cut inside, picking out Bale who curled a delicious shot into the back of the net from 20-yards, leaving Hart with no chance to notch up the fourth goal in 10 minutes.
The away side were looking the more likely to continue scoring, Bale playing in to the box and forcing Gael Clichy into a last-ditch header behind with Defoe lurking, and Lennon seeing a subsequent shot saved comfortably by Hart.
Four minutes of added time was announced with both sides still pushing for a winner, and it was to be the home sides that would find it. A long ball forward from City’s defence saw Balotelli hold off King, only for the Spurs skipper to bring the striker down. In suitably maverick fashion, the young Italian stepped up to slot the ball home and make it 3-2, securing the three points to temporarily open up a six point lead at the top of the Premier League.
Man City: Hart, Richards, Savic, Lescott, Clichy, Barry, Milner, Silva, Aguero, Nasri, Dzeko. Subs: Pantilimon, Zabaleta, Johnson, Kolarov, Onuoha, De Jong, Balotelli.
Tottenham: Friedel, Walker, Kaboul, King, Assou-Ekotto, Lennon, Parker, Modric, Bale, Van der Vaart, Defoe. Subs: Cudicini, Pavlyuchenko, Bassong, Dawson, Kranjcar, Livermore, Pienaar