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Balotelli nets late penalty, Man City draws Dortmund

Associated Press

10/3/2012 5:43:27 PM

MANCHESTER, England -- Manchester City required a 90th-minute penalty from Mario Balotelli and some inspirational goalkeeping by Joe Hart to escape with a 1-1 draw against Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League on Wednesday.

City was outplayed for long periods by the German champions but somehow emerged with a first point in Group D when Balotelli rolled in a spot kick after Dortmund defender Neven Subotic handled a hooked shot by Sergio Aguero.

Marco Reus put Dortmund deservedly ahead in the 61st minute but despite a flurry of chances in both halves, the German champions were denied time and again by a string of saves by Hart.

"We didn't play well. We didn't deserve to take this point but in the end it could be important," City manager Roberto Mancini said. "Joe Hart saved us from an incredible defeat because he saved everything and we should say thank you to him."

In losing at Real Madrid in its first game, City had already put itself under pressure in what is widely seen as the competition's toughest group.

A second straight group-stage exit will be unacceptable to City's Abu Dhabi owners, who have poured money into the club since 2008. Yet this result leaves the English champions with a mountain to climb, even at this early stage.

They are already five points behind Madrid, a 4-1 winner at Ajax on Wednesday, and three behind Dortmund.

If it wasn't for Hart, Dortmund would have been out of sight by the time Balotelli converted his penalty, nine minutes after the Italy striker came on as City's final substitute.

"We've got to be happy with a point," Hart said. "We kept ourselves alive in the group."

In an open first half that was end-to-end and played in pouring rain, the England international tipped shots from the lively Mario Goetze onto the post and crossbar and also saved brilliantly from Ilkay Gundogan.

Hart also produced a number of great blocks early in the second half, denying Goetze and Gundogan, but he was unable to stop Reus.

The nimble Germany forward pounced on a sloppy pass by substitute Jack Rodwell across the defensive line and raced through before placing a shot to the right of Hart, who got a hand to the ball but couldn't stop it sailing into the corner.

Reus' goal meant City has conceded in every match this season, the home defence having no answer to the enterprising build-up play of Dortmund's technically gifted forwards all match.

"I was really happy with my team's performance, I was really proud of them," Dortmund coach Juergen Klopp said.

"I don't know when City last lost at home and we came really close. When you concede a goal so near the finish, it is hard to decide if you are happy with the point."

City, whose fans were outsung by Dortmund's raucous away support, had chances of its own, mostly because of the silky skills of David Silva.

The Spain playmaker set up Argentina striker Sergio Aguero for two one-on-one opportunities that were saved in the first half, while right back Pablo Zabaleta blazed over with the goal at his mercy after running onto another slick pass from Silva.

City was under constant pressure for most of the second half, though, but emerged with a point thanks to some harsh refereeing and Balotelli's coolness under pressure.

Subotic was unhappy with the awarding of the penalty, after his outstretched right arm blocked the ball as Aguero turned it goalwards.

"Never, never, not a chance," the Croatia defender said. "I have a hand, I can't cut it off. It was never in my life a penalty."