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Mancini pleased with Balotelli


Roberto Mancini

Roberto Mancini

Roberto Mancini

Roberto Mancini believes 40 days of hard work by striker Mario Balotelli are paying off after the Italy international helped fire his Manchester City side to a 4-1 win over Aston Villa which sent them top of the Barclays Premier League.

So often embroiled in controversy - both on and off the field - since joining City from Inter Milan for £24million last summer, Balotelli has produced two stellar performances for Mancini at a time when he has needed them the most.

Mancini said: "He played well, has scored four goals in a row and works for the team. Mario can change in a moment but I am happy because it is now 40, 50 days (when he has) played and worked well."

He added: "He is motivated because he is playing and scoring. It is important moment for him. I think that for a player on the bench with me it is not easy to watch the game and not play in a team playing well and scoring goals."

On the sidelines with Mancini were key playmaker David Silva, who played the last 20 minutes following his exertions with Spain, Owen Hargreaves, who made his Premier League debut for the club late on, and the unused duo of Edin Dzeko and Samir Nasri.

Villa were left to rue the end of their unbeaten start to the season. They squandered the first two chances of the match, with Gabriel Agbonlahor failing to beat Given in a one-on-one situation before Warnock fluffed his lines on the rebound.

Manager Alex McLeish was more disappointed with his side's defending, though.

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"I think it was a bad day at the office," said the Scot. "We left two up front and had Steven Ireland to support, but if we lose goals like we did today it doesn't matter if it's Man City or an amateur team, you'll lose goals like that if you're not organised at set-pieces.

"These things shouldn't happen because we organised the players to pick up City targets, the ones we singled out for attention, and that's why I'm extremely disappointed.

"We started well, Gabby had a great chance, a great save by Joe Hart, but you need to take chances at places like this and, to lose goals the way we did was (for) comedy cuts."

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