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Rewind to Boxing Day 1963

Barclays Premier League
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By ESPN Staff

Mancini hails improving Balotelli

Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini hailed the improvement made by Mario Balotelli after the Italy striker netted his eighth goal of the season in Saturday's 3-1 win over Newcastle.

• City dismantle Newcastle to go clear
• Lescott: Richards can be world's best

Balotelli stroked home a penalty five minutes before the break and Micah Richards made it 2-0 before another spot-kick from Sergio Aguero wrapped up the victory.

"With the penalties, Mario is fabulous,'' Mancini said. "It is impossible that he misses. I don't know why. He shoots very well.

"Mario is a very important player for us. He is a great player and is getting better and better.

"I am trying to help him because I don't want him to waste his talent and to make sure he can become the player he can become. The rest is down to him and he is doing very well.''

The result maintained City's 100% league record this term at the Etihad Stadium and kept them five points ahead of Manchester United, who won 1-0 at Swansea in the late kick-off thanks to Javier Hernandez's early goal.

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