A day in the life of Mario… handed run-out for City's kids team, turns up laughing and joking, scores two goals, snubs hat-trick by rejecting TWO penalties and is then chauffeur-driven home!
16:36 GMT, 7 January 2013
17:14 GMT, 7 January 2013
Mario Balotelli was back in the goals for Manchester City in a surprise performance for the champions' Under 21 outfit – but he turned down the chance to score a hat-trick from the spot, twice.
The controversial striker returned to action for the senior squad on Saturday, when he replaced Edin Dzeko in the 71st minute in City's 3-0 FA Cup win over Watford.
The striker has been out of favour over the past month following a lacklustre showing in City's defeat to bitter rivals in the Manchester derby on December 9.
No 9: Mario Balotelli wore the iconic striker's number instead of 45, which he wears at senior level
Anybody there Balotelli scored twice in front of a modest crowd at Platt Lane
A dismal four weeks for the Italian came
to a head when he and manager Roberto Mancini wrestled with one another
in training, and, as revealed in Sportsmail, the City boss is prepared to sell his protege after finally losing patience with him.
But Mancini may have to think twice after a dazzling performance this afternoon.
After coolly jogging on to the pitch, sharing a joke with some of the fans at Platt Lane, the 22-year-old fired City into a 1-0 lead after half-time, having pounced on a defensive error.
With Balotelli leading the line, City
cruised past their opposition, and were soon 3-0 up after a second
goal from the striker.
The Italy international was then twice
handed golden opportunities to bag a hat-trick after his coolly despatched brace.
Future stars: The Italian lined up next to Manchester City's youngsters
Face in the crowd: Marcos Lopes, who scored City's third on Saturday, watched the match
Looking on: Oldham manager Paul Dickov was at Platt Lane watching two of his former clubs in action
City were awarded two penalties at 3-0 up, and Balotelli allowed his younger team-mates to try their hand from the spot.
Despite his perfect record from 12 yards out, having never missed a competitive penalty for club or country,
Balotelli first handed the reins to a young trialist, who missed the mark.
After City were awarded a second penalty, Balotelli allowed young Denis Suarez to have a pop.
The 19-year-old Spaniard stepped up
and killed the game off at 4-0 in front of a modest crowd including the
likes of Paul Dickov, Patrick Vieira and sporting director Txiki
The selfless Balotelli was then chauffeur-driven from the ground.
Mancini will take solace from the fact that the former Inter Milan attacker is back to scoring ways.
The Italian coach has watched his
compatriot endure a miserable campaign so far, with Balotelli only
managing to score once in the Premier League this season.
With Sergio Aguero injured, Balotelli will be hoping play some part in City's trip to the Emirates this weekend in their bid to topple Arsenal.
However, Mancini stated that Balotelli's career at City was 'finished' after the corresponding fixture last season. The striker picked up two yellow cards and was dismissed as the visitors were beaten 1-0 by a Mikel Arteta strike.
Impressed: City's sporting director Txiki Begiristain was also at the match
Job done: The goalscorer left City in style as he climbed into a chauffeur-driven car
Peering out: Balotelli will be hoping to be included in City's trip to Arsenal this weekend