Barclay’s English Premiership
Monday 11 January 2010, 20:00 KO
City: Given (c), Garrido, Richards, Kompany, Zabaleta, de Jong, Barry, Petrov (Boyata 87), Bellamy (Robinho 69), Tevez, Benjani (Santa Cruz 81)
Unused: Taylor, Sylvinho, Wright-Phillips, Ibrahim
Goals: Tevez (6, 48, 90+1), Richards (39)
Referee: Chris Foy
Man of the Match: Carlos Tevez
City knew that a victory would take them back into fourth and put them back on level games with Tottenham, Aston Villa and Liverpool thanks to the postponement of fixtures because of the weekend’s weather. And City were in no mood to disappoint their fans.
They started the game on the front foot, with Tevez, workmanlike as ever, forced a corner in the opening minute. Blackburn managed to clear, but they were soon architects of their own downfall as Chris Samba needlessly nodded the ball behind for a corner, under pressure from Benjani.
From that corner, Petrov aimed at the front post and Robinson flapped, dropping the ball to Benjani. The Zimbabwean smashed the ball back towards goal, past Robinson and Tevez was on hand to turn the ball into the net with his knee, from inside the six yard box.
With 17 minutes on the clock, a nice exchange of passes from Bellamy and Tevez presented Benjani with the ball in the box, but the Blackburn defence crowded him out and got the ball clear. A minute later, Blackburn had their first shot, with Givet hitting the ball well wide of Given’s goal.
After 21 minutes, Tevez and Petrov combined well to set City up on another attack, but Petrov’s cut back missed everybody in the box and was cleared comfortably by the visiting defence. Pedersen then had Blackburn’s second effort and it was worse than the first – high, wide and not so handsome.
In the 30th minute, Petrov hit a free kick well over the bar after Tevez was felled on the edge of the box.It had become something of a scrappy game and neither side were able to force any clear-cut chances.
That was until Micah Richards took the game by the scruff of the neck. He won the ball mid-way into his own half and carried it 80 yards, before sending Benjani through. The Zimbabwean’s first time shot beat Robinson, but not the post, though Richards had carried on his run to get there first and guide it into the net.
The first real action of the second half was the goal that put the game beyond doubt. The ball broke for Benjani on the right wing and he got his head up and knocked the ball inside to Petrov. The Bulgarian couldn’t connect, but Tevez was behind him to finish with a superb, curling effort, straight into the top corner.
With an hour gone, Tevez should have had his hat-trick, after Zabaleta swung a left footed ball straight onto his head, while he was unmarked on the edge of the six yard box. Somehow, though, the little Argentinian nodded the ball past Robinson and past the far post and straight to the nearby ball boy.
N’Zonzi then shouldered the ball well wide of the goal from six yards out, after Given was caught in no man’s land, before Zabaleta was booked for chopping down Kalinic on the right side of defence.
With 72 minutes gone, though, Pedersen grabbed an unlikely goal for the visitors to give them some hope of a comeback. Given chipped the ball over the Blackburn forward as he was being closed down and Kompany was unable to control it, presenting it on a plate for the Norwegian to curl around the City keeper.
City were on the back foot for the next five minutes, but Blackburn were unable to fashion any real chances. City looked dangerous on the break and Pedersen earned himself a yellow card for pulling down Robinho cynically.
With nine minutes to go, City had the ball in the net once again, but the linesman’s flag was up and Robinho had been adjudged to have been offside from Zabaleta’s low cross.
Robinson then had to be alert to deny Robinho, who shot from range, before Santa Cruz could have provided Tevez with an opportunity for his hat-trick, but elected to shoot after a 30-yard run and it ended up well wide.
Though the little Argentine didn’t have to wait much longer to get his first Premier League hat-trick. Robinho picked him out on the edge of the box and Tevez was able to turn. Then, with no backlift, he curled the ball around Robinson and into the corner of the net.
It sealed a fourth win in four games for the new City manager and lifted the team into poll position in the race for the top four spot. Everton at the weekend will be another text for the new City manager, who will be looking for five wins out of five. It’s been a perfect start for him and a perfect weekend for City.