Manchester City 3 Blackburn 0
English Premier League
Saturday 25 February 2012, 17.30 KO
City: Hart, Zabaleta, Kompany (c), Lescott, Kolarov, de Jong, Y Toure (Milner 86), A Johnson (Pizarro 72), Silva, Balotelli (Dzeko 79), Aguero
Unused: Pantilimon, Richards, Clichy, Nasri
Goals: Balotelli (30), Aguero (52), Dzeko (81)
Referee: Mike Jones
Man of the Match: David Silva
It was one-way traffic from the first whistle, as the hosts looked to get themselves on the scoresheet early on. Balotelli stung Robinson’s fingers in the opening minute as he swept a shot at the near post, before a Silva ball into the box was inches away from finding the net via the Italian’s head, but, somehow, he couldn’t connect and the visitors’ goal remained just intact.
Adam Johnson was next to test the visiting goalkeeper and, after Robinson had been tested by the shot from the England winger, he spilled the ball to Zabaleta. The Argentine pulled the ball back into the middle of the box, but there was nobody there to capitalise and it was a let off for the away side, whose backs were firmly against the wall.
It was Robinson who came out the better again on 27 minutes, after Balotelli’s free kick flicked off the wall and forced the former England international into another good save. It had been all City and the only reason the scores were level was the man in goal for Rovers.
The resistance, though, was breached on the half hour. Kolarov drove the ball into the box and found Balotelli in the centre of the goal. It was a first time flick from the Italian and the accuracy, combined with the pace of the cross, was enough to beat Robinson and give the home side the advantage.
Blackburn could have had a penalty when Pedersen was felled in the box in one of their rare attacks, but the referee decided the contact wasn’t enough to have caused his fall – City were lucky to get away scott free from de Jong’s challenge. Silva was then the next City player in line to test Robinson, who, again, was equal to the effort.
Kompany nearly had City’s second in an almost identical manner to Balotelli’s opener: He flicked Silva’s corner goalwards with the outside of his foot, but, once again, Robinson kept it out with another wonderful save. Yaya Toure couldn’t volley the rebound into the net, slotting it just inches wide of the far post, as the home side pressed for more reward.
Just before the whistle for the break, Aguero couldn’t quite connect to a shot and find the back of the net, before Toure was a whisker away from latching on to a Kolarov cross. As the first half stoppage time ended, Aguero almost doubled City’s lead by winning a ball that should have been cleared by the Blackburn defence, but his first time rolled shot was just wide of the far post, with Robinson a spectator.
City’s second goal, though, wasn’t slow in coming after the half. Silva’s corner dropped right on top of Robinson, who made a hash of his clearance – neither catching or punch it. Instead, he flapped and it dropped nicely for Aguero to volley straight back into the empty net, despite the attempts of the defenders on the line to stop it.
Zabaleta got in behind the Blackburn defence to fire a cross into the six yard box, but Aguero, who met the driven ball in, couldn’t react quickly enough to re-direct it goalwards, such was the pace on the pass. The two Argentines ended the exchange with a laugh and a hug in the box and the ball ended it in the Family Stand.
The game appeared to be petering to a close, as City were happy to keep possession and avoid letting the visitors back into the match. Blackburn, on the other hand, seemed content to have only conceded two, such was the pattern of play. But, with nine minutes to play, Edin Dzeko got City’s third to round the evening off in style: Kolarov crossed into the box and it was a powerful header bounced into the net from the Bosnian.
With United playing the next day, City were five points clear at the top of the league.