City send out warning as Toure sinks Submarine
MANCHESTER CITY 3
Another game, another rout. Manchester City have seemingly forgotten how to make life difficult for themselves and even a Yellow Submarine failed to halt their cruise towards the Champions League knockout stages.
Two goals from Yaya Toure and a first-half penalty from Mario Balotelli, which produced incessant booing by the Villarreal supporters as the Italian stared down his tormentors, secured City's first victory on Spanish soil and moved them into second place in the group ahead of this month's decisive clash against Napoli in Italy.
Villarreal, nicknamed the Yellow Submarine, were brushed aside just like City's domestic opponents after initially proving defensively-minded. Villarreal, rooted to the foot of Group A without a point, were defending an unbeaten record against English opponents at El Madrigal.
But they were hamstrung by a raft of injuries to key players, most notably former Manchester United forward Giuseppe Rossi, who faces six months on the sidelines with a cruciate ligament injury.
For much of the first half, Villarreal stuck rigidly to their defensive shape, suffocating the space around the City players -- David Silva, in particular -- and only broke forward with long passes to their lone striker, Joselu.
He should have opened the scoring for the hosts on 17 minutes when he escaped Vincent Kompany and Stefan Savic to receive a 40-yard pass just inside the penalty area. But the Spanish forward took his eye off the ball at the crucial moment.
Joselu was a threat and his readiness to play on the shoulder of the last defender ensured nerves for the visitors every time they waited for the offside flag.
City dominated possession, but they continually came up against an eight-man barrier in the final third of the pitch.
Silva, the former Valencia winger, was forced to overcome the shackles imposed by the close marking of Borja Valero on his first return to Spain in a City shirt but, with everything flowing through the mercurial playmaker, it was no surprise when Silva created the opening for Yaya Toure to put Mancini's team ahead.
Silva appeared to be expecting a return ball from Toure as he laid the pass off before darting into the penalty area. However, his run opened up space for the former Barcelona midfielder and Toure stroked the ball beyond goalkeeper Diego Lopez and into the far corner.
City sensed an opportunity to extend their lead and Portuguese referee Pedro Proenca correctly pointed to the penalty spot deep into first-half stoppage-time following a shove by Mateo Musacchio on Balotelli.
The Italian striker stepped up to score his seventh goal in seven games, despite attempts to distract him with a green laser pen from the stands.
Television cameras also highlighted the laser pen being shone on the face of referee Proenca in the second half and City midfielder Samir Nasri had objects thrown at him while taking a corner -- mainly paper aeroplanes and litter.
The off-field nonsense did not affect City's performance as they comfortably dealt with the minimal threat posed by their opponents.
City's supremacy ensured that the game was largely one-way traffic in the second half, the only surprise being their inability to translate their dominance into further goals in the early stages of the half.
Balotelli was unlucky not to score his second on 53 minutes when, after being teed up by James Milner, he turned sharply 25 yards out and saw a powerful shot deflected behind for a corner.
The home team's defensive organisation began to evaporate as the combined talents of Silva and Nasri ensured wave after wave of City attacks.
Silva's involvement was halted, however, by a knock which led to him being replaced by Adam Johnson on 65 minutes, but by that stage, City had found their groove.
It merely enabled Nasri to claim centre stage as City's creative force and he created the third goal for Toure with a pass which released Balotelli to tee up the Ivorian.
Balotelli's first-time pass to Toure resulted in the midfielder beating the helpless Lopez with a right-foot strike from 20 yards to confirm victory. Now for Naples. (© Daily Telegraph, London)