Balotelli steals show in City win
Mario Balotelli netted twice before being sent off as Manchester City secured a 2-0 win at West Brom to ease the pressure on their manager Roberto Mancini.
Balotelli opened the scoring after combining with City skipper Carlos Tevez, who was back in the team following his two-match injury lay-off, and then converted David Silva's cross to give the visitors, defeated in their last three matches, a two-goal advantage.
The Italian striker's afternoon took a turn for the worse after the break, though, when he was red-carded following a tangle with Youssouf Mulumbu, who was also sent for an early bath after scything down Tevez late on.
Given City had not won at the Hawthorns on their last four visits in all competitions, and the recent struggles of Mancini's side, the Baggies had plenty of reasons to feel confident going into the match, and it was evident in the way they got started.
Kolo Toure nearly scored an own goal after challenging Chris Brunt but City started to impose themselves as the half wore on and Tevez and Balotelli linked up to create the opener in the 20th minute with the latter notching his first Premier League goal when he slid in to meet a cross from Tevez, who had latched on to Silva's incisive pass.
Having made the breakthrough, Balotelli took only six minutes to strike again and put City 2-0 up as Silva lofted a pass to the former Inter Milan man who finished firmly despite the attentions of Gabriel Tamas.
City continued to press as the second half got under way, with Jerome Boateng finding himself in an unusually advanced position and just beaten to the ball by Scott Carson though Simon Cox almost pulled one back for Albion in spectacular fashion with a swerving effort that cracked against the post.
Having no doubt impressed watching Italy boss Cesare Prandelli with his finishing prowess, Balotelli then received his marching orders after being shown yellow and then red cards in quick succession.
The man advantage seemed to rouse the Baggies, who panicked City into hitting the ball against their own bar from a corner, before Joe Hart tipped Nicky Shorey's free-kick over.
However, Mulumbu was dismissed for a reckless lunge on Tevez - West Brom's third red card of the week after they were reduced to nine men at Blackpool on Monday and though Albion tried to remain on the front foot, they could not find a way through as City made off with a morale-boosting three points.