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Feb, 25, 2012

Platt praises Balotelli

Manchester City first-team coach David Platt hailed a mature performance from Mario Balotelli in the routine win over Blackburn.

• Manchester City 3-0 Blackburn

Balotelli opened the scoring as City ran out 3-0 winners in a one-sided contest at the Etihad Stadium to move five points clear at the top of the Premier League. The Italian was making his first league appearance for a month after serving a four-match domestic ban for stamping on Tottenham's Scott Parker.

Manager Roberto Mancini has said he wants full concentration from the 21-year-old in the title run-in and Platt believes there were plenty of signs of that.

Platt said: "I actually thought he was very disciplined in his performance and his work rate was exceptional both on and off the ball. His temperament was good. He can be pleased with his afternoon's work."

Platt was also pleased with the way Balotelli dealt with his treatment from the Blackburn defence.

He said: "When a team defends deep against you like that, and to open them up you have got to give the ball to people who are marked and closely guarded, there are going to be kicks like that, but you never once felt there was going to be any reaction today."

Balotelli celebrated his goal by revealing a T-shirt bearing a message of love for his girlfriend Raffaella, which is likely to attract rather less attention the earlier 'Why Always Me?' shirt.

Platt said: "All players flash T-shirts nowadays. There are a lot of players that want to take their shirts off and show messages. I don't think it is a case of flamboyance."

Balotelli's strike gave City a 1-0 half-time lead which might have been greater but for a string of superb saves by Paul Robinson. Sergio Aguero added the second earlier in the second half before Edin Dzeko came off the bench to head a third late on.

Platt played down the significance of the goals for the three leading strikers - who have now scored 52 between them this term - in the week Carlos Tevez was welcomed back to training.

Platt said: "All three strikers have scored all season. They are scoring goals but the team is creating them for them."

City dominated the game from the outset and relegation-threatened Blackburn struggled to gain possession, let alone test keeper Joe Hart.

Platt said: "In terms of possession you saw that we controlled the game. We knew we had to get off to a good start, not to let them settle into their game plan and we did that. We created chances and felt the goal was coming."

The result sent Blackburn back into the relegation zone but manager Steve Kean, with fixtures against some fellow strugglers ahead, remains optimistic.

Kean said: "The games we have coming up now, Aston Villa, Bolton and Wigan - teams in and around us - and it's going to be a massive month for us.

"We have no injuries today and got a couple coming back, Gael Givet and Jason Lowe from suspension, so fingers crossed lads come back from international duty fresh and fit to play.

"We are disappointed today, but we will move on. It's never nice to lose. We tried to minimise the amount of times Man City could play through us, much like we did at Liverpool away, Manchester United and even Everton.

"But I don't think that was the problem for us, but more when we did get the ball back, we never kept it the way we normally do. When we did get the ball back we gave the ball away and never got ourselves up the pitch enough to trouble Joe Hart.

"You know how difficult it's going to be with the depth of the (City) squad. It was probably close to a £400 million squad with the lads on the pitch and on the bench, so they can rotate and add quality when they decide to rest people."

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