Mario Balotelli shouldn’t have been on the pitch when he got the chance to give Manchester City a goal, and win, that probably knocked Tottenham out of the title race. Howard Webb missed the vicious step on Parker’s head, and the villainous Italian scored the injury time penalty, giving the league leaders a dramatic 3-2 win.
There was nothing to tell you grandchildren about in the first half. Both teams played cautiously. But we’ve gotten used to City being a patient team, confident in both their defense to repel the few Tottenham players who actually ventured forward, and in the very talented attacking side, with David Silva, as usual, in charge and inform.
The goals came quick and didn’t stop when the began. David Silva, in another brilliant assist in his brilliant season, found Samir Nasri who scored his fourth goal of the season. Nasri made his City debut a few months ago, against Tottenham, in that 1-5 defeat. Not much has changed for City since, but plenty for Tottenham, who lost the midfield battle for most of the afternoon, which, barring the big miss, cost them the match.
Joleon Lescott was the next to score with his first league goal of the season, as it seemed that Tottenham were falling apart. David Silva was working his magic, but more importantly, Tottenham had an ineffective midfield with Parker, Modric and Van der Vaart finding it hard to do anything beyond Barry and Milner.
Luck, or belief, hasn’t run out on Spurs, for good reason. A terrible Stefan Savic attempted clearance left Jermain Defoe with an easy goal. Five minutes later, and it was a wonderful Gareth Bale goal. Four minutes, four goals. Harry Redknapp, instead of signaling his players to jump on the prey and finish the job made a defensive substitution and lost the momentum.
The game turned into a messy affair, aggressive and borderline violent. With Balotelli, you can’t have it any other way, as the Italian striker, already carrying a booking, stomped on Scott Parker’s head as he was falling down. Howard Webb, despite being inches away, failed to acknowledge the incident with more than a stoppage of play. And while Tottenham weren’t exactly going for the win, a crucial turnover in the middle of the park put Gareth Bale and Jermain Defoe in a 2 on 1 situation.
Bale dragged it wide too much, Jermain Defoe didn’t calculate the offside and the timing right, and Manchester City escaped by sheer luck, as Defoe missed the pass with a mistimed slide, sending the ball wide in one of the misses of the season, a miss that decides titles.
On the other side, a determined City got a goal they deserved for initiative, as Mario Balotelli was brought down by King, no argument, no discussion. If there’s something Balotelli does well, is take spot kicks, as calm as a cucumber. A 3-2 win after a blinding second half, with Howard Webb adding another big mistake into his big book, and Tottenham add another missed opportunity to their big book, despite the wonderful season.