Football: A controversial late penalty from second-half substitute Mario Balotelli was enough to rescue a point for Manchester City against Borussia Dortmund on match day two of this season's Champions League.
Despite the heroics of City keeper Joe Hart the Bundesliga champions took the lead after the break when Marco Reus netted after some poor defending from the Citizens.
But substitute Balotelli rescued a point for the champions of England, converting from the spot in the final minute of the game.
Having suffered heartache in the closing stages of their opening group match against Real Madrid, City boss Roberto Mancini demanded his side improve if they were going to qualify for the knockout rounds.
And the home side had chances to take the lead within the first 10 minutes through Samir Nasri and Sergio Aguero but Dortmund keeper Roman Weidenfeller was equal to both efforts.
Manchester City are yet to keep a clean sheet this season. The Sky Blues have shipped 17 goals in nine games.
And sloppy defending nearly cost them again when Mario Gotze found himself free only to see a combination of Hart and the upright keep his effort out.
Midway through the first-half Aguero once again found himself bearing down on Weidenfeller’s goal only for the German keeper to save brilliantly before Gotze was once again thwarted by the woodwork at the opposite end.
It was David Silva who had the best chance to break the deadlock a minute before the interval when Pablo Zabaleta’s excellent cross from the right was met by the foot of the Spaniard less than six yards out. However he couldn’t keep his shot down and the ball flew high, wide and handsome.
The opening stages of the second half offered little in the way of clear-cut chances with Edin Dzeko and the impressive Gotze both having tame efforts saved.
But inevitably it was the aforementioned sloppy defending that was City’s downfall on 62 minutes when Jack Rodwell, who came on as a first-half substitute for the injured Javi Garcia, played a blind pass across his back line. The ball was easily intercepted by Reus who crashed the ball past a helpless Hart.
Reus had a chance to kill the game off just two minutes later when Robert Lewandowski, a January transfer target for Manchester United, sliced open the City defence only for the German Reus to see his shot this time saved by Hart.
“Joe Hart saved us from defeat because he saved everything so we should say thank you to him,” said Mancini afterwards.
But the award of a controversial penalty in the final minute of the game was enough to give the home side a share of the spoils.
Neven Subotic was adjudged to have handled a goal bound effort from Aguero inside the area and substitute Balotelli converted the resulting spot-kick. Replays showed that the Argentinian's shot had hit Subotic’s arm from point-blank range.
“We didn’t play well and we conceded a lot of chances. I’m really disappointed about our performance,” added a downbeat Mancini.
“Our performance was very, very poor, but I think at the end this point could be very important.
“I think that the Champions League is totally different from every championship. When you play you are playing against the best player and when you have a chance you need to score. If you don’t score enough and you concede like we conceded this evening, it’s difficult to win.
“The problem was our performance. In the Champions League we can play with all players when we attack. But we need to defend with those players as well. We have to run and fight like Borussia Dortmund did."
City have now now gone 15 games unbeaten in Europe at Eastlands dating back to the 2008-09 season when FC Midtjylland took the points in a Uefa Cup qualifying game.
And having crashed out of the competition at the group stages last season, Mancini’s men will need to perform better in their remaining home ties against Ajax and Real Madrid if they are not to fall at the same hurdle again.
Next up for Manchester City is Sunderland at home in the Premier League. Mancini was left disgruntled by the timing of the game following a midweek Champions League clash.
He said: “We need to recover very well as we play on Saturday at 12:45. I don’t understand this – it’s incredible. We play Wednesday night and then Saturday at 12:45. Now we have two days and 12 hours to recover. We lost a lot of energy in this game."
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