City ease past hapless Rovers
Balotelli, Aguero and Dzeko all on target for irresistible City
By Razwan Mirza. Last Updated: 26/02/12 8:14pm
Mario Balotelli opened the scoring for Manchester City at home to Blackburn
Manchester City moved five points clear of rivals United thanks to a formidable 3-0 victory against a limp Blackburn side at the Ethiad Stadium.
The hosts created a host of chances as they dominated the game and eventually broke the deadlock as Mario Balotelli, sporting a mohican, slotted home his 13th goal of the season on the half-hour.
Paul Robinson, who was in inspired form, was at fault for City's second as his poor punch allowed Sergio Aguero to hammer his fierce drive into the back of the net for his 16th - and 21st in all competitions.
And Edin Dzeko soon added his 18th of the campaign, just 1 minute and 21 seconds after coming on as a substitute, powering Aleksandar Kolarov's delicious cross into the far corner.
City have now won their last 18 Premier League games at home, dating back more than a year, and equal Newcastle's record of starting a season by winning each of their 13 home matches.
While Balotelli, Aguero and Dzeko tonight celebrate scoring 52 goals between them this term, relegation-threatened Rovers must regroup quickly for their battle ahead.
The hosts gave an early warning of their intentions as Balotelli tested Robinson with just a minute gone.
David Silva and Johnson combined on the right before the England winger's low cross was turned sharply at goal by Balotelli, but Robinson saved low to his left.
Johnson created space to shoot from distance but Robinson parried and the ball was hacked clear.
Robinson was in action again moments later as a Balotelli free-kick took a slight deflection off the wall and needed to be pushed away.
Blackburn finally cracked on the half-hour as City counter-attacked with Silva releasing Kolarov on the left.
The Serbian powered forward and pulled the ball back for Balotelli who, six yards out, instinctively clipped it past Robinson at the near post.
He celebrated by unveiling a T-shirt with a message telling his girlfriend Rafaella he loves her - a rather more modest offering than the previous 'Why Always Me?', which referred to his notorious madcap, off-field antics.
Blackburn wanted a penalty as they made a rare attack moments later.
Morten Gamst Pedersen was shaping to shoot when he went down under a Nigel de Jong challenge but referee Mike Jones played on.
Despite being beaten, Robinson continued to impress, saving another sharp effort from Silva.
There was better to come from the former England goalkeeper as he palmed away a backheeled Vincent Kompany volley at a corner and he deserved the luck as Toure put the rebound wide.
Toure went close again just before the interval but again fired wide while Aguero shot across goal from a tight angle.
City showed no let-up as the second half began with Toure powering forward to tee up Johnson, whose shot was deflected wide.
The seemingly inevitable second goal came after 52 minutes as Robinson showed his fallibility.
The goalkeeper spilled a Silva corner and Aguero was on hand to blast in on the half-volley.
City suffered a moment of alarm just before the hour as Toure landed awkwardly attempting to cross and Aguero also pulled up.
Both required treatment but were able to continue.
Balotelli left the field to a standing ovation with 12 minutes remaining, moments after taking a knock in an aerial challenge in the area and requiring treatment.
His replacement, Dzeko, wasted little time in making an impression as he headed the third two minutes later.
Kolarov found space down the left and whipped in a superb cross for the Bosnian to tuen home.Blackburn finally made Joe Hart work in injury time, but Ayegbeni Yakubu's shot was weak and was greeted by ironic cheers from the home fans.
|Manchester City||Team Statistics||Blackburn Rovers|
|1||1st Half Goals||0|
|9||Shots on Target||1|
|12||Shots off Target||0|
|81.4||1st Half Poss.||18.6|
|74.5||2nd Half Poss.||25.5|
Barclays Premier League
|4||West Ham United||17||31|
|15||West Bromwich Albion||17||17|
|16||Queens Park Rangers||17||17|