Manchester 2,North London 0

Mario Balotelli settled Manchester City's thrilling five-goal encounter with title rival Tottenham and provided the moment of controversy by appearing to stamp on an opponent

Written by Associated Press | Manchester | Published: January 23, 2012 1:22 am

Mario Balotelli settled Manchester City’s thrilling five-goal encounter with title rival Tottenham on Sunday and provided the moment of controversy by appearing to stamp on an opponent. Having thrown away a two-goal advantage,Premier League leader City was being held 2-2 deep in stoppage time when Balotelli was tripped by Ledley King in the penalty area.

Referee Howard Webb pointed to the spot and Balotelli clinched the 3-2 triumph that kept City top of the standings with an 11th straight home league win.

Despite only being a 65th-minute substitute,Balotelli was still the centre of attention. Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp was furious that Balotelli escaped unpunished 10 minutes before his matchwinner,accusing the volatile Italy striker of deliberately kicking Scott Parker. “He does it a lot,he backheeled him in the face and cut his head. No one can make excuses that he didn’t do it,” Redknapp said.

Tottenham had been on course to become the first team to take points off City in the league at the Etihad Stadium this season after staging a rapid comeback from conceding two quick-fire goals. But the match ended with Tottenham now eight points behind City although still third only separated by Manchester United.

United threat alive

Antonio Valencia scored one goal and set up another Sunday to give Manchester United a 2-1 win at Arsenal. The Ecuador winger headed United into the lead in first-half injury time and,after Robin van Persie equalised in the 71st,darted into the area with nine minutes left to give Danny Welbeck the chance to smash the ball past goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny.

The result kept the defending champions within three points of City and further threatened the Gunners’ chances of qualifying for next season’s Champions League. Arsenal is five points behind fourth-place Chelsea and 18 behind City.

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