3 October 2012 23:13
A late Mario Balotelli penalty helped Manchester City secure an unconvincing 1-1 draw at home to Borussia Dortmund on Wednesday.
Roberto Mancini cut a frustrated figure at Etihad Stadium as City needed an 89th-minute Balotelli spot-kick to earn a point in the Champions League encounter.
Substitute Balotelli, who had only been on the pitch for eight minutes, coolly slid home a penalty after Neven Subotic had been harshly penalised for handballing a David Silva volley.
It came after Dortmund had created a glut of excellent opportunities only to be denied by a Joe Hart master-class in goal in the Group D clash.
The England number one could not prevent Marco Reus giving the visitors the lead after 60 minutes but he was equal to everything else the Bundesliga champions threw at him, with half a dozen outstanding saves.
City’s best opportunities in the first half fell to the lively Sergio Aguero, who was denied athletically on each occasion by the excellent Roman Weidenfeller.
The Dortmund ‘keeper also kept out Samir Nasri, while Silva sliced a volley horribly over the bar from inside the six-yard box shortly before the interval.
At the other end, Mario Goetze, the brilliant German prospect, brought the best out of Hart, who was busier than during his team’s loss to Real Madrid a fortnight ago.
Hart turned an early Goetze drive on to the post and, later, clawed the winger’s half-volley on to the crossbar.
Goetze was left shaking his head with disbelief when Hart then charged off his line to deny him from close range.
The second half continued where the first half finished off, with Hart denying Goetze for the fourth time in the match by flinging himself to his right to tip a rasping effort around his post for a corner.
But Hart’s one-man show of resilience was finally broken after an hour.
The catalyst was a terrible mistake from Jack Rodwell, a 33rd-minute replacement for the injured Javi Garcia.
Rodwell played a loose pass without looking and his error was pounced upon by the outstanding Reus, who charged towards goal and lifted the ball past Hart and into the bottom corner.
Dortmund continued to test Hart and Robert Lewandowski missed an excellent chance with a quarter of an hour to play, poking a cross wide with the goal at his mercy.
Balotelli made City pay for their wastefulness as he netted from the penalty spot to give City their first point in the group.
Real Madrid recorded a 4-1 victory over Ajax in the other Group D encounter as Cristiano Ronaldo netted a hat-trick at Amsterdam Arena.
The visitors deservedly went 1-0 up in the 42nd minute when Ronaldo found the net from close range, before Karim Benzema made it two shortly after the break with a fantastic overhead effort.
Niklas Moisander pegged one back after a corner only minutes later, only to see Ronaldo restore Madrid’s two-goal lead with a well-placed effort.
Shortly after, the Portugal star got his hat-trick with yet another fine finish as Real completed a comfortable win.