Balotelli - The First of Many?
The name on everybody's lips in and around Eastlands produced a blistering mini-appearance in Timisoara last night and showed just why Roberto Mancini put his faith in bringing him to Manchester City.
With the scoreboard showing 0-0, City didn't look under any real threat from a lively home side at the Dan Paltinsanu Stadionul on a warm evening in Romania.
Clearly from the team set up City did not want to lose and early goal, but in the first half played narrow and didn't necessarily inspire up front where once again City found it hard to retain the ball.
Enter Mario Balotelli at half time and it was a totally different ball game.
Initially parading down the left Mario started to disturb defenders with his powerful running and showed the kind of bustling style that might have been missing since the days of Uwe Rosler.
And then from a slick move on the defensive left, he was handily placed in the box to finish off a sharp move and send the 200 Blues on the Tribuna Oaspeti into a frenzy.
Defenders tumbled like ninepins as Balotelli set about his business in a display of power and strength emphatically topped-off with an eye for goal.
Premier League defenders will not enjoy seeing this young man come on to the field.
There was considerable concern towards the end when he looked to have been clattered close to the home goal and the Flintstones-style golf buggy made it's second appearance of the night. He finished the match being treated behind the goal.
But he made it back to his feet and although with his knee lightly strapped was walking reasonably comfortably by the time City landed at Manchester in the early hours.
Although Balotelli started to make the difference in this match, the introduction on to the field of Adam Johnson also changed the complexion of the game. Running from wide out, the Poli back line struggled against his pace and crossing and it was miraculous that City only troubled the scoreboard operator once as the chances appeared.
More to come from Balotelli - for sure, but please let us see more of the wide options in stretching defenders and creating space for him to go about his work.
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