Late goal from Mario Balotelli stuns Spurs, Danny Welbeck strike finishes off Arsenal
Manchester City 3-2 Tottenham Hotspur
Mario Balotelli converted a stoppage-time penalty as Manchester City beat Tottenham Hotspur 3-2 in another fabulous Premier League encounter at the Etihad stadium. Second-half goals from Jermain Defoe and Gareth Bale looked certain to secure a point for the visitors, but Mr. Balotelli, once again, had written his own script.
The first moment of note came after 12 minutes when Ledley King blocked a fierce right-footed shot by Sergio Aguero. Manchester City then started to turn the screw and on the half hour mark, Sergio Aguero had a 12-yard strike brilliantly saved by Brad Friedel.
Approaching the break, Joleon Lescott caught Gareth Bale and a free kick was awarded. Despite Luka Modric, Bale and Rafael Van der Vaart all being accomplished free-kick takers, bizarrely it was Younes Kaboul who, after a three-yard tee up by Van der Vaart, blazed the ball ten yards past Row Z. More Victoria Beckham than David.
The Blue Army had a reason to go wild just before the hour mark: the mesmeric Silva shifted the ball to that silky left peg and delivered an absolutely sublime pass, leaving Nasri to smash the ball beyond Friedel.
Three minutes later, from a Samir Nasri corner, Lescott bundled the ball home to double the lead.
Bang on the hour mark, sloppy defending allowed Defoe to take the ball round Joe Hart and score his ninth league goal of the season.
Before Manchester City were allowed to compose themselves, Lennon cut in from the left and squared the ball for Bale to unleash a left foot thunderbolt from 22 yards; his body position tricked Hart and he whipped the ball across himself into the top right corner.
Redknapp called on Jake Livermore to replace Rafael Van der Vaart and City replaced Edin Dzeko with the enigmatic and completely unpredictable Mario Balotelli.
Joleon Lescott (forearm smash) and Mario Balotelli (stamp) will be able to share a cab when they visit the FA Headquarters next week. Both events missed by Howard Webb, but video evidence will probably mean both players will serve a ban.
The game had another twist; Bale broke down left and squared the ball for Defoe, who was inches away from giving the Londoners all three points.
The game looked like it was going to end level, but, with 90:00+3:38 on the clock, Mario Balotelli was up-ended by Ledley King just inside the box and Webb awarded a penalty.
Mario Balotelli gave Friedel ‘the eyes’ and confidently tucked the ball away to win the game for City.
Arsenal 1-2 Manchester United
A late Danny Welbeck strike gave Manchester United victory at The Emirates and ensured they stayed three points behind leaders Manchester City. Ryan Giggs found Antonio Valencia to give United the lead just before half time. Arsenal appeared much brighter after the break and Robin van Persie got the Gunners back in the game with a 15-yard strike. But with ten minutes to go, Welbeck lashed home from close range with the winner.
Arsenal started the game well; Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain looking a real threat down the Arsenal right wing, delivering three crosses in the opening minutes.
That didn’t last long and United piled on the pressure in the opening 30 minutes, Nani, Ryan Giggs and Wayne Rooney looking dangerous on the break.
Ryan Giggs found Antonio Valencia to give United the lead slap bang on the 45 minute mark. Giggs manufactured a yard on the left wing and delivered the ball to the far post, where Antonio Valencia thundered his header past Wojciech Szczesny.
Arsenal started the second half brightly, moving the ball forward at pace and creating a few good openings. The pick of them fell to Robin van Persie. Tomas Rosicky unselfishly squared the ball to the Dutchman, who waited, waited and waited for Anders Lindegaard to go to ground and then somehow blazed the ball wide of the gaping net.
Moments later, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain drilled a shot inches wide of the upright.
A simple ball over the top of the Arsenal back four allowed Danny Welbeck to race towards Wojciech Szczesny; the Arsenal keeper managed to just get enough on the strike, which allowed Per Mertesacker to clear the ball off the line.
With twenty minutes remaining, the excellent Oxlade-Chamberlain made a forceful run inside the United half and supplied a perfectly weighted reverse pass for Robin van Persie, who hit the ball across Lindergaard into the bottom corner of the net.
The Arsenal crowd got behind their team as they hoped for a winning goal, but moments later starting booing and jeering as Andrey Arshavin came on for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Not ideal situation for the team or the players.
With ten minutes left on the clock, Danny Welbeck popped up to give United the lead. The young forward found space in the box to smash the ball beyond the Arsenal keeper.
As the game drew to a close, Per Mertesaker came close with a couple of headers but it was United who took all three points.