Mancini brackets Balotelli with world's best
Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini tipped Mario Balotelli to join Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo as one of the world's top three players after his two-goal starring role in the 6-1 demolition of Manchester United.
Balotelli had made headline news on the morning of the game after the fire brigade were called to his Cheshire home to put out a blaze caused by fireworks being let off in his bathroom.
But Mancini believes Balotelli, who was also booked for celebrating a goal by displaying a t-shirt with the slogan 'Why Always Me', has the ability to become one of the world's leading players if he can curb his off-field behaviour.
"I don't know what happened about the fireworks," Mancini said. "The important thing is Mario and his friend were okay.
"For today, Mario played very well. If we want to talk about Mario regarding a football player, I put him in the first five players in the world.
"The problem after that is his age, he is young and maybe sometimes can make some mistakes. Like a player, he is incredible.
"I didn't see the t-shirt, but it's Mario. This is why our supporters like him, because he's crazy. I love him because he's a good guy but next time it's better he keeps his shirt on.
"I hope for him, for football in general, we arrive at the day when Mario has changed his mind completely because with this he could become one of the best three players in the world, like Messi, like Cristiano Ronaldo."
The result was City's biggest win at Old Trafford since January 1926 as Edin Dzeko also claimed two goals, with further strikes from David Silva and Sergio Aguero.