Man City boss Roberto Mancini has voiced his disappointment with Mario Balotelli's performance against Sunderland despite his two goals.
Manager admits City's showing was below par
Manchester City Roberto Mancini has voiced his disappointment with Mario Balotelli's performance against Sunderland despite the striker's two goals.
The Premier League title-chasers were outclassed by Martin O'Neill's Black Cats as they dropped points at the Etihad Stadium for the first time this season in a 3-3 draw.
Mancini's men only really came to life in the dying stages in Manchester as Balotelli and Aleksandar Kolarov both netted within two minutes to earn a share of the spoils.
The manager, who was without injured top scorer Sergio Aguero for the clash, was particularly frustrated by the performance of the young Italian striker, who clashed with team-mate Kolarov over who should take a free-kick after converting from the penalty spot in the first half.
"He didn't play well," said Mancini. "In a game like this, the striker should be the difference, but not in the last two minutes, three minutes - before.
"A player like Mario, like (Edin) Dzeko, should score two or three goals in a game like this. In this moment we need our strikers to do different."
Mancini admits City's performance on the whole was lacking and knows dropping points has given fierce rivals Manchester United, who visit Blackburn on Monday, the upper hand in the title race.
"We didn't have a good performance. I'm happy only for the last 10 minutes. For the other 80 minutes I'm unhappy because we didn't play very well," he said.
"I don't know why. In the first half we were flat. In games like these, which are very important for us, we can't be like in the first half.
"When you're at the end (of the season) you can be tired sometimes, it is possible. But why did we do that in the last 15 minutes? We should do what we did in the last 15 minutes before.
"We conceded three goals, which is a strange thing, because it's unusual we concede three goals at home."
City now sit two points behind leaders United in the table and Sir Alex Ferguson's side could stretch that advantage to five at Ewood Park, but Mancini is confident they will slip up.
He added: "I think maybe after this game our confidence will go down, but only for this afternoon. Because United probably will draw, and we will be three points behind."
Balotelli and Dzeko started for City after top scorer Aguero was ruled out with what Mancini previously described as a "stupid injury".
Reports in Saturday's papers said the striker had injured his foot on his child's toy and increased the damage after suffering an allergic reaction to a medicinal spray - claims Mancini denies.
He said: "It's not true. It's not his fault, like somebody wrote in the newspaper this morning."
Micah Richards was substituted for City at half-time but Mancini does not believe his injury is severe, adding: "No, no I don't think. Not serious."