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  • 22 January 2012
  • • 13:30
  • • Etihad Stadium, Manchester
  • Referee: H. Webb
  • • Attendance: 47422
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Manchester City 3-2 Tottenham: Mario Balotelli nets stoppage-time penalty to foil Spurs' comeback in sensational second half

Manchester City 3-2 Tottenham: Mario Balotelli nets stoppage-time penalty to foil Spurs' comeback in sensational second half

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Home side gain crucial victory in the Premier League title race as five goals are scored after the break at the Etihad Stadium with the visitors missing out on a vital point

Manchester City recorded a sensational 3-2 victory over Tottenham as Mario Balotelli netted a stoppage-time penalty to give the home side a precious win in the Premier League title race.

City took the lead in the 56th minute when Samir Nasri crashed the ball into the net after
latching onto David Silva’s delightful through ball. Joleon Lescott then doubled the advantage just minutes later, scrambling in from a corner.

Spurs responded immediately as Jermain Defoe capitalised on an error from Stefan Savic to beat Joe Hart to the ball and pass home into an empty net. Moments later, Gareth Bale looked to have completed the comeback for the visitors with a fantastic strike from outside the area as his left footed curler sailed into the top corner.

However, substitute Balotelli was felled in the area by Ledley King with seconds remaining and the striker made no mistake from the spot sliding into the bottom corner to give City the three points.

Roberto Mancini made one change to the team that beat Wigan on Monday with the fit-again Micah Richards replacing Pablo Zabaleta in the starting line-up while Balotelli returned to the bench. City were still without the suspended Vincent Kompany and brothers Yaya and Kolo Toure, both on duty at the Africa Cup of Nations.

Harry Redknapp was able to call on captain King after the England international had recovered from a hamstring injury that ruled him out of the past six games and he replaced Michael Dawson. Emmanuel Adebayor was ineligible to play against his parent club so Defoe was handed a rare start up-front in his absence.

City tested the abilities of King early on but the defender proved he was suffering no rustiness as he managed to block Sergio Aguero’s effort after the Argentine had twisted and turned his way into a decent position.

After the troubles of their partnership in the game against Wigan, Aguero and Edin Dzeko's communication seemed to have improved until the Bosnian walked in front of his strike partner’s goal-bound effort after a lovely assist from David Silva.

Mancini’s side were having the better of the half and should have taken the lead through Silva after the Spaniard linked up well with Aguero, but he failed to direct his shot goalwards and fired wide of the post.

City spurned yet another opportunity when Richards pounced on a loose pass from King and drove into the Spurs area, he squared the ball for Aguero but the Argentine’s strike was straight at Friedel who made a good save with his feet.


Title challenge on? | Gareth Bale celebrates a magnificent equaliser

The visitors looked lively at the start of the second half as they looked to hit Mancini’s side on the counter-attack with Luka Modric raiding down the left and picking out the run of Gareth Bale in the area only for the Welshman to slip at the crucial moment and miss the ball.

Spurs were made to rue this missed chance with City taking the lead through Nasri just moments later. The Frenchman was put through by a delightful ball from Silva after peeling off Kyle Walker and he smashed the ball past Friedel into the top corner to send the home crowd into raptures.

The hosts then doubled their lead in the 59th minute through Lescott as he scrambled the ball into the net after escaping the attentions of his marker from a corner and latching onto Dzeko’s flick-on.

Spurs waited just a minute to get back into the game as Defoe pounced on a mistake by defender Stefan Savic - the Montenegrin defender misjudged his clearing header. The striker was allowed into a one-one situation with Joe Hart and showed composure by calmly taking the ball past the England keeper and placing into an empty net.

Redknapp’s side then shocked the Etihad Stadium by getting an equaliser in spectacular fashion as Bale picked up the ball outside the area and crashed a sublime curled effort over Hart into the net.

Both sides were upping the ante towards the end of the game trying to force a winner but defences were up to the challenge as neither side wished to give up their share of the points.

Tottenham had a great chance to steal the points in stoppage time as Bale broke down the left and picked out an unmarked Jermain Defoe in the area but the striker couldn’t direct his effort goalwards and the ball went agonisingly past the post, sparing City’s blushes.

However, there was to be yet another twist as City won the game with virtually the last kick. King clumsily brought down substitute Balotelli in the area leaving referee Howard Webb with no choice but to point to the spot. The Italian subsequently dusted himself off to take the penalty and calmly slotted the ball past Friedel to clinch the three points.

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