Balotelli's treble sinks Villa

Mario Balotelli his first Manchester City hat-trick as Aston Villa were thumped 4-0 as the Blues climbed to the top of the Premier League.

Last Updated: 28/12/10 at 17:16 Post Comment

Balotelli: Hit a treble

Balotelli: Hit a treble

More of the games that matter

2 years free Sky Broadband Unlimited for Sky Sports customers

The transient nature of English football at this time of year meant the position was not secure, could have been lost before the night was out and City may end up third by Wednesdayevening.

But that is a minor point and did not stop the table being flashed on big screens at the final whistle.

No matter where City end this week, or this season for that matter, it is clearly not a fleeting position for a club so used to watching the big prizes being handed out than actually competing for them.

And in Balotelli, City have a player Roberto Mancini will surely want to keep despite the repeated negativity that has surrounded the youngster for all manner of reasons.

With Carlos Tevez rested, the 20-year-old strode confidently onto centre-stage, exhibiting audacious self-belief to score two penalties, either side of a three-yard tap-in which helped take his City tally to an impressive eight goals in 11 appearances.

On a dank Manchester day, the half-time whistle brought jubilation for the home fans, who were already certain of their fate and total despair for the visiting contingent.

Three wins from 13 matches for Gerard Houllier prior to this debacle could partly be explained away by the chronic injury-list the Frenchman has had to contend with.

The excuse is wearing a bit thin though judging by the boos that greeted Michael Oliver's shrill blast, the second time Villa had reason to thank the 25-year-old rookie referee.

Had Oliver opted to dismiss Eric Lichaj for blatantly pulling down Balotelli as he charged onto David Silva's seventh-minute through-ball, a massacre might well have ensued.

As it was, the penalty proved sufficient, which Balotelli finished nervelessly, walking up to the ball before sending Brad Friedel the wrong way.

If he takes notice of such things, Balotelli would have woken to news of his apparent homesickness being made public knowledge.

Dealing with unhappiness within his squad has almost become a weekly occurrence for Mancini.

But he knew the downsides to Balotelli's combustible character when he brought the 20-year-old to England from Inter Milan and must therefore have been expecting such a problem at some stage.

Last week, Mancini chided the Italy star for not smiling enough.

He didn't get that response from the first goal. He did after Balotelli's second though, which again was created by Silva, who is rivalling the rested Tevez as player of the season.

After exchanging passes with Yaya Toure inside the Villa box, Silva cut inside a couple of weak challenges before aiming a low-curling shot for the far post.

Friedel did get a hand to the ball but could only push it straight to Balotelli, who tapped home, then raced to acknowledge Silva, his happiness made clear in the most appropriate manner.

Had deflections from goalbound shots from Toure and Silva ended up in the net, Villa would have been staring at utter humiliation.

As it was, City only had one more goal to reflect on over their interval cup of tea.

There was more than an element of controversy about it too as Lescott leapt to reach Adam Johnson's corner at the near-post, glancing it to the far, where Barry Bannan headed it away, although not after the assistant referee felt it had crossed the line.

Having got into the smiling habit, Balotelli found he couldn't stop.

Rarely can anyone have exerted so little effort in completing a hat-trick as he hungrily grabbed the ball after Johnson had been sent tumbling by Marc Albrighton.

If anything, the second walk-up was even more leisurely than the first. Too slow indeed for Friedel not to commit himself. Once the American reached the point of no return, Balotelli made him took silly by knocking the ball into the other corner.

This time there was a rueful grin as the Italian acknowledged his achievement before a broader smile as he was embraced by delirious team-mates.

It was the end of the scoring but the difference in class from two sides who at the end of last season were both battling to break into the top four was depressingly evident for Houllier, who has a huge task in front of him to prevent a downward spiral spinning totally out of control.

Football365 Facebook Fan Page

The Football365 fan page is a great place to meet like minded people, have football related discussions and make new friends.

More Match Results

Monday, 15 September 2014
20:00
Hull City 2-2 West Ham Report
Sunday, 14 September 2014
16:00
Man Utd 4-0 QPR Report
Saturday, 13 September 2014
17:30
Liverpool 0-1 A Villa Report
15:00
Chelsea 4-2 Swansea Report
C Palace 0-0 Burnley Report
Southampton 4-0 Newcastle Report
Stoke 0-1 Leicester Report
Sunderland 2-2 Tottenham Report
West Brom 0-2 Everton Report
12:45
Arsenal 2-2 Man City Report

Barclays Premier League

Position Team P GD PTS
1 Chelsea 4 9 12
2 A Villa 4 3 10
3 Swansea 4 3 9
4 Southampton 4 5 7
5 Man City 4 3 7
6 Tottenham 4 2 7
7 Arsenal 4 1 6
8 Liverpool 4 1 6
9 Man Utd 4 3 5
10 Hull City 4 0 5
11 Everton 4 -1 5
12 Leicester 4 -1 5
13 West Ham 4 -1 4
14 Stoke 4 -1 4
15 Sunderland 4 -1 3
16 QPR 4 -8 3
17 C Palace 4 -3 2
18 Burnley 4 -3 2
19 West Brom 4 -5 2
20 Newcastle 4 -6 2

Updated Thu, 18 Sep 2014

Footer 365

Premier League: Man City manager Manuel Pellegrini not concerned by Yaya Toure's form

Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini has no concerns over the form or commitment of midfielder Yaya Toure.

Transfer news: Chelsea's Jose Mourinho plays down Cristiano Ronaldo transfer talk

Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho has played down speculation about signing Cristiano Ronaldo.

Dundee boss Paul Hartley anticipates a good derby with United

Dundee boss Paul Hartley maintains his players have no fears as they prepare for the derby match with Dundee United.

Mail Box

Be Careful What You Wish For, Gooners

That's the message from a Man United fan in the mailbox. Plus, thoughts on Paul Lambert's new contract, the Alan Pardew dilemma at Newcastle and lots more...

No, Wenger IS To Blame For Failure...

The backlash to the backlash to the backlash sees Arsene Wenger getting a good kicking while we also have mails on Chelsea, Newcastle, Everton and lots more...

© 2014 British Sky Broadcasting Ltd. All Rights Reserved A Sky Sports Digital Media property