Balotelli and Toure set City up for Napoli crunch clash


MANCHESTER CITY manager Roberto Mancini believes his side will face the acid test of their Champions League aspirations in a winner-takes-all clash against Napoli in three week’s time.

The Premier League leaders took just one point from their opening two fixtures in the competition, but back-to-back wins over Spanish strugglers Villarreal has catapulted them back into contention for qualification to the knockout stages.

Victory last night, achieved thanks to a Yaya Toure brace and a Mario Balotelli penalty, was as routine as the assignment in Naples is likely to be demanding.

Mancini said: “I think this win is important because now we have a good chance.

“We know that everything will be in Naples.

“I think it will be an incredible atmosphere. There will be 70,000 people at the stadium.

“I think it is very difficult to play but it is important to go there with this result.

“I don’t think it was easy to win here but we played very well and after the first goal it was easier. That was really important.”

Villarreal, seasoned Champions League campaigners but decimated by injury, offered little resistance from the moment Toure accepted David Silva’s pass in the 30th minute, stepped inside and buried a low curling shot past Diego Lopez.

And the points were wrapped up in first-half stoppage time when Balotelli nonchalantly stroked home a penalty after he had been barged over by Mateo Musacchio.

A largely uneventful second half was illuminated only by Toure’s second of the night. Samir Nasri released Balotelli down the left, he shipped the ball onto the Ivorian powerhouse, who tricked his way past a defender and finished with ease.

The only moment of concern for Mancini came 25 minutes from time when he was forced to withdraw playmaker David Silva. The Spaniard left the field clutching his back and was seen to be grimacing in pain in the dugout, but his manager feels the injury is not too serious.

He said: “I don’t think this is serious. He took a knock on his back. Also we play again in 60 hours against Queens Park Rangers. I think he can recover well.”