Balotelli enjoys eventful debut

LONDON - Mario Balotelli enjoyed a dream start to his Manchester City career when he came off the bench to score the winning goal in his club's 1-0 Europa League play-off, first leg victory over Timisoara on Thursday.

Balotelli, whose 24 million pounds move from Inter Milan was completed last Friday, stroked home the only goal after 71 minutes in Romania to put City in the driving seat for next week's second leg.

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"He had a great debut. I am happy he scored. He's a good player," City coach Roberto Mancini was quoted as saying on the BBC website. He needs to improve of course and get to know everybody. It was the first time he had played with the team."

Mancini has spent more than 120 million pounds in the transfer market since the end of last season when City finished fifth in the Premier League and Mancini fielded a strong side against the Romanians which included Yaya Toure and David Silva.

Toure, who was impressive on his debut in the 0-0 draw at Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday, was instrumental in Balotelli's goal when he linked well with Emmanuel Adebayor.

Balotelli, who gained a reputation as a troublemaker in Italy where he had a stormy relationship with the fans and manager Jose Mourinho, was booked shortly after his goal to complete a lively cameo.

He was also limping after the final whistle but Mancini hoped he would be fit to face Liverpool next Monday.

"We do not think it is serious. It was probably just a kick, it is not a problem," Mancini said.

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