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Two-goal Balotelli eases slick City through

Manchester City FC 3-0 FC Salzburg
Two goals from Mario Balotelli and Adam Johnson's fine solo effort sent City top of Group A and into the round of 32.

Mario Balotelli volleys City's first goal past Salzburg keeper Gerhard Tremmel
Mario Balotelli volleys City's first goal past Salzburg keeper Gerhard Tremmel ©Getty Images

Mario Balotelli scored twice as Manchester City FC qualified for the UEFA Europa League round of 32 with a comfortable victory against FC Salzburg.

Balotelli struck on 18 and 65 minutes, his first goal a sumptuous volley from Pablo Zabaleta's cross. Adam Johnson's solo effort rounded off the scoring late on, leaving the hosts requiring a point at Juventus on Matchday 6 to win Group A. Salzburg, the only team to win all six group games in this competition last season, are out.

Making his first European appearance since suffering a knee injury on debut in the play-offs, Balotelli showed he was eager to make up for lost time with an early effort which cleared the crossbar. Swarming all over the Austrian champions, City soon fashioned another chance when Shaun Wright-Phillips rolled a ball across the area which dissected strikers and goalkeeper alike.

The goalscorer then drew a save from Gerhard Tremmel when perhaps a pass to the unmarked Jô would have been better, but that soon mattered for little as the former FC Internazionale Milano striker volleyed in City's first home goal in 305 minutes. Goalkeeper Shay Given, featuring for only the third time this season in all competitions, had little opportunity to press his claims for more first-team action in a match in which Salzburg seldom looked like adding to their sole group-stage goal.

Balotelli shot into the side netting after the restart before claiming his and City's second with a goal which owed much to the persistence of Johnson. The winger dispossessed Stefan Hierländer outside the area and fed Patrick Vieira, who rolled the ball across for Balotelli to sweep past the exposed Tremmel.

Johnson − a livewire presence throughout − put the seal on a straightforward night for the Premier League team in stunning fashion, drifting inside from the left and curling a shot into the bottom corner with his right foot.