Mens Team

The 12 Games of Christmas: Mario's magic treble

The 12 Games of Christmas kicks off with this cracker from 2010...

The game:

City 4-0 Aston Villa


December 28, 2010

The story:

There had been reports that Mario Balotelli was unhappy and homesick.

Five months after joining City from Inter Milan, the 20 year-old striker had scored just two Premier League goals and the jury was out as to whether he was suitable for the hustle and bustle of English top-flight football.

This festive fixture would, however, convince the doubters that this precocious talent was perfect for City and this was arguably the game when an unbreakable bond was formed.

Moody, unpredictable and mischievous, the City fans loved Mario and against Aston Villa, he finally showed what he was capable of – plus he was wearing skeleton gloves!

With the holiday Etihad crowd still in high spirits, City went ahead after just eight minutes when Eric Lichaj hauled Balotelli down as he moved on to David Silva’s pass and the referee awarded a penalty.

The Italian placed the ball down ad was coolness personified as he calmly stepped up, gave just the merest hint of a shimmy, and calmly strolled the ball past Brad Friedel.

Five minutes later, Joleon Lescott’s header from a corner was judged to have crossed the line and City were 2-0 up inside 13 minutes.

And Mario had his second of the afternoon with only 27 minutes played as he tapped into an empty net after Silva’s low shot had been palmed out to make it 3-0 against Gerard Houllier’s side.

With the points wrapped up by the break, Mario went on to complete his first City hat-trick just 10 minutes after the restart as he again scored from the spot with consummate ease.

He even cracked a smile just as he did – though walked straight down the tunnel minus the match-ball after the final whistle… default moody Mario indeed!