Football: Mario Balotelli started on the bench for Manchester City as the Premier League champions progressed to the fourth round of this season’s FA Cup with a comfortable win over Championship side Watford.
The controversial striker has failed to make any of manager Roberto Mancini’s squads following his poor display in the 3-2 defeat to bitter rivals Manchester United a month ago when he was hauled off just after half-time.
Following Thursday’s training ground bust-up with Mancini it appears that the father-son relationship between the two may have now reached breaking point.
Rumours are rife that the City manager is set to sanction the sale of the player in this month’s transfer window.
The striker made an appearance as a second-half substitute to a chorus of “fight, fight, fight” from the home fans.
He then had a hand in his side’s third goal when his shot from the edge of the box was spilled by keeper Jonathan Bond, allowing Marco Lopes to tap in.
After the game Watford manager Gianfranco Zola was quick to praise the potential of the fellow countryman. He said: “Mario, I have an affection for him.
“I work with him for the under-21s and obviously I do care about him. I hope his potential comes true. When he came on in the short time he caused us so many problems. You just need to understand how to master his potential.”
City had taken the lead midway through the first half when Watford skipper John Eustace brought down Carlos Tevez on the edge of the box. The Argentinian took the resulting free-kick and drilled it beyond Bond.
The Hornets should have been level from the restart when Fernando Forestieri beat the offside trap only to have his shot saved by Costel Pantilimon.
But Gareth Barry made it two for the Citizens just before the break before 17-year-old debutant Lopes came off the bench to score in stoppage time.