Thursday 17 August 2017

Troublesome duo Balotelli and Johnson deliver for City

Manchester City 3
Salzburg 0

Shay Given barks out the orders to his Manchester City defence during last night's Europa League tie at Eastlands. Photo: Reuters
Shay Given barks out the orders to his Manchester City defence during last night's Europa League tie at Eastlands. Photo: Reuters

Mark Ogden

Mario Balotelli and Adam Johnson have both furrowed the brow of Roberto Mancini this season, but the high-maintenance pair showed why they are worth persevering last night.

Balotelli's brittle temperament has already led to one suspension, while Johnson's 'focus' continues to be questioned by his manager.

Yet two goals from Balotelli -- he has five in six games since his £22m arrival from Inter Milan -- and another mesmerising solo strike from Johnson secured a comfortable victory which confirmed City's progress to the Europa League knock-out stages.

Mancini and his players must still face Juventus in Turin, but the hard work is as good as done.

Salzburg had shown little potential to upset City during the clash in Austria in September, when Mancini's men cruised to a 2-0 victory, and the Italian chose to call on his fringe players for the return fixture.

And even without the likes of Carlos Tevez, David Silva and Joe Hart, City appeared able to overcome Salzburg at half-pace.

City should have been three goals clear at half-time, but their margin at the interval was just one -- Balotelli's 18th-minute strike. He might be temperamental and unpredictable, but he has an ability to creep into goalscoring positions, and he underlined his prowess by directing home Pablo Zabaleta's cross with a crisp left-footed volley.

Balotelli made it 2-0 on 65 minutes and Johnson put the seal on the victory, waltzing past two defenders before curling the ball into the far corner. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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