Manchester City stayed on course for the Premier League title with a dramatic 3-2 win over Tottenham. As is becoming habitual, the man at the centre of the drama was Mario Balotelli.
Balotelli won City the decisive penalty in the last minute of stoppage time, and the man himself calmly despatched the kick to secure all three points. For many observers though, the flamboyant Italian should not have been on the pitch at that stage.
Referee Howard Webb missed what looked like a malicious stamp on Scott Parker in the 84th minute that would normally have merited a red card. Unsurprisingly Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp leaned towards that interpretation of events.
"The boy who scored the penalty shouldn't have been on the pitch," Redknapp said. "He kicked Scott Parker in the head. 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, anyone can see he did do it."
Tottenham had fought back to level the match after going two goals behind, and had their own chance to score a third in stoppage time when Jermain Defoe missed a great chance.
Balotelli, oblivious to all the controversy, felt no nerves stepping up to take the penalty. Asked what he was thinking, he replied, “Nothing. I was calm, like every time I take a penalty."
Manchester United’s win at Arsenal kept them on the tail of City at the top. The London challenge from Chelsea, Tottenham and Arsenal is now realistically about Champions League qualification rather than the title.