By Robert Morris (at Eastlands Stadium)
Mario Balotelli netted twice, as Manchester City overcame Salzburg on a cold winter’s evening at Eastlands to qualify top of Group A. City now find themselves in the enviable position of going into their final group game with Juventus without needing a single point.
The blues started brightly against a Salzburg side that were bottom of the group prior to kick-off, Balotelli created numerous chances before opening the scoring in the 17th minute. Argentine full-back Pablo Zabaleta whipped in a cross which the Italian, who rushed in front of his marker, volleyed home a delightful effort.
City were then expected to take the game to Salzburg and put the came to bed early, however, sloppy passing meant the score remained 1-0 at the break. Super Mario grabbed his second on the hour mark; a scrappy shot from Patrick Vieira fell to the striker to tap into the net from close range.
The Austrian side were finally dead and buried with 77 minutes on the clock, a majestic run from Adam Johnson, taking on three players on the left-flank, before curling a shot past the goalkeeper.
Manager Roberto Mancini summed up his thoughts in the post-match press conference: “I’m happy with qualification – we can now focus on the Premier League.” City face a tougher test at home this weekend, as 6th place Bolton Wanderers visit looking for another impressive result.
Robert was at Eastlands Stadium in Manchester to report for 90soccer