MARIO BALOTELLI has hailed Manchester City's 6-1 win over Manchester United on Sunday as "one of the best" team performances he has been involved with at the club.
The 21-year-old Italy striker scored twice as City stormed Old Trafford to move five points clear at the head of the Premier League.
It was fitting that Balotelli should be at the heart of the action, having hogged the headlines for the wrong reasons when fireworks were let off in his house the day before the game.
The colourful frontman responded by revealing a T-shirt which read 'Why always me?' after his opening goal, and yesterday went full circle by fronting a campaign to promote firework safety.
Manager Roberto Mancini was grateful that Balotelli did his talking on the pitch at the home of one of his side's title rivals, and the former Inter Milan striker was as delighted as his boss.
"The feeling was great. To win a derby away at Old Trafford is one thing, but to win it 6-1, none of us knew what to say. We were really happy," Balotelli said.
"It was brilliant. It was a great atmosphere; it was a derby, so that's what you expect. My first goal was a good goal.
"I'm a striker and sometimes you don't think about what you will do.
"Those types of goal, sometimes they go inside and sometimes they don't. It was on target and it was a good goal, so I was happy.
"I think this win and this performance showed everyone that we can be the best. Sunday was one of the best we have ever played together for sure."
Balotelli added that fans could "work out" what his T-shirt message meant and, after a year that has seen him involved in a number of controversial, sometimes comical, incidents, he insists that the latest one was not his doing.
Two fire engines were called to the 21-year-old's house in Macclesfield, south of Manchester, just after midnight on Saturday after a fire broke out in a first-floor bathroom caused by a firework.
But, promoting a local campaign in Manchester yesterday encouraging the safe use of fireworks, Balotelli blamed the incident on a friend.
"I didn't know anything about it until I heard the shouting coming from the bathroom," he said.
"Luckily, nobody was injured, and my friend apologised to me for the damage to my house.
"It was a really stupid thing for him to do, someone could have been really hurt, and I was really, really angry with him about it."