Zabaleta in effort to avoid argy-bargy against Villarreal

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Manchester CITY defender Pablo Zabaleta wants to defuse any lingering tension between his side and Villarreal prior to tonight’s away Champions League clash at El Madrigal.

City snatched a dramatic 2-1 home win with an injury-time Sergio Aguero goal when the sides met at the Etihad Stadium a fortnight ago.

City celebrated their first win in Champions League football feverishly but amid the euphoria there was a sour note as Aguero was later accused of mocking Villarreal players by people from the Spanish club.

Aguero denied the accusations and fellow Argentine Zabaleta wants to make sure all is forgotten by having a word with another of their countrymen before kick-off.

Zabaleta, 26, said: “I don’t know what happened in the last game with Sergio in the tunnel.

“But I know some players from Villarreal, especially Gonzalo Rodriguez, and I will try to speak to him to say what happened in the last game is finished. We need to try to focus on the next game. That is most important for us and for the Villarreal players as well.”

City’s last-gasp success last time out changed the complexion of Group A as Bayern Munich and Napoli simultaneously played out a draw.

Roberto Mancini’s men are still third but just a point behind Napoli and three off Bayern’s top spot. Yet there is still work to be done and Zabaleta added: “We are in a tough group with difficult teams. We know it is going to be very hard and it is tight in front of us.

“If we want to get into first or second position we need to try to get three points tonight.”

Zabaleta was speaking at City’s pre-match press conference where the subject of a certain other Argentinian was raised as Mancini spoke.

Mancini has spoken little about Carlos Tevez since accusing the striker of refusing to play against Bayern five weeks ago.

Tevez was last week found guilty of that offence and five other breaches of contract by City and is currently frozen out of the first-team picture.

Yet Mancini says he would welcome the 27-year-old back into the fold if he was to apologise, saying: Mancini said: “In life, everyone can make mistakes but it is important to apologise in every situation.”