Blackburn 0 Manchester City 1

Barclay’s Premier League
Monday 25 April 2011, 20.00 KO

City: Hart, Zabaleta, Kompany (c), Lescott, Kolarov, Barry, de Jong, Y Touré, Silva (Boyata 90), A Johnson (Dzeko 72), Balotelli (Vieira 84)
Unused: Taylor, Milner, Wright-Phillips, Jo
Goals: Dzeko (74)
Booked: Barry, Balotelli, de Jong

Referee: Andre Marriner
Man of the Match: Nigel de Jong

City started the game on the front foot, controlling the early possession and trying to work an opening. Barry tried to lift a pass to Balotelli, who couldn’t quite get there ahead of the Blackburn defence, before Zabaleta crossed for Silva to volley and, with Robinson helpless, he hit the inside of the post.

Balotelli was then flattened by Dunn on the edge of the Blackburn box and he picked himself up to strike the free kick, but Robinson was able to hold it. Johnson then looked to slip Silva in, but his through ball was blocked.

Benjani then found some space in behind Kompany and he squared the ball for Emerton to cross. He tried to find the head of Benjani, but Kompany got there first. Kolarov attempted a shot from long range that was dipping, but it wasn’t dipping enough.

With 20 minutes played, Roberts wanted a penalty for a challenge by Kompany in the area and it could have been given, the referee perhaps dissuaded by the theatrical fall by the home side’s forward. A Kolarov corner then needed three attempts to be cleared by the Blackburn defence, as Barry challenged.

Balotelli was almost in behind the defence as a long ball was missed by Samba, but it wouldn’t sit up for the Italian, before Silva couldn’t quite get to the rebound. Dunn then hit a free kick straight into the arms of Joe Hart at the other end.

Jones brought the ball out of the back on 34 minutes and got himself into a crossing position on the edge of the box, but a combination of Kompany and Zabaleta got the ball away. The resulting corner almost fell for Benjani, but it bounced too far in front of him and behind for a goal kick.

Benjani then flicked a header beyond his own man at the back post in a decent position for Blackburn, before Kompany attempted to connect to a Kolarov corner. Balotelli picked up the loose end and fired a shot straight at Salgado, allowing Robinson to collect. Samba then came closest for Blackburn, flicking a header past a rooted Joe Hart, but just wide of the far post.

Roberts then caused problems in the City box with a wicked ball in that Zabaleta did well to touch behind and avoid putting through his own goal, before some head tennis on the edge of the City box resulted in a free kick to the visitors to relieve the pressure.

City returned the pressure as Yaya Touré broke into the Blackburn box, but couldn’t find Balotelli in the middle. Kolarov then picked out Barry who looked for the Italian, but he slipped as he tried to put the ball in the net, with Robinson helpless.

The visitors got off to a similar start in the second half as they did the first: Johnson got down the right and crossed for Silva, but it was flicked away just before he could connect. Kolarov then found the Spaniard, who chipped it to Touré at the back post and his headed needed pushing over by Robinson.

Blackburn should have been ahead on 50 minutes as a free header from Roberts was planted well wide by the home side’s centre-forward, before the rebound couldn’t be poked home as Joe Hart threw himself across goal.

City then began to struggle, as they did in the first half, giving away needless free kicks around the area and not able to keep possession at the other end of the pitch. Roberts turned and shot at Hart’s goal, but it was an easy take for the England keeper.

With Blackburn pressing, it took Hart to come and claim a corner, after Kolarov had been forced to knock a Givet cross behind. Silva then had a go from the edge of the box, but he couldn’t quite curl it around Robinson. Benjani then tried from a similar position, but he dragged his shot wide.

Kolarov tried an effort from range that needed Robinson to palm it away, before Silva slipped Touré into the box. Touré found Silva, who shot across goal and it was cleared as far as Dzeko, who grabbed his first Premier League goal, smashing it into the net, Robinson unsighted by Balotelli who was in an offside position.

With three minutes to play, Jones was kicking himself that he hadn’t equalised for the home side. Kompany didn’t know Roberts was behind him when he attempted to clear and caught him. The referee pulled the game back, despite a good Rovers advantage, and Jones headed over from the cross.

As Blackburn pushed forward in stoppage time, Yaya Touré broke in behind the defence and found himself one-on-one with Robinson. His touch, though, was too heavy and the home side’s keeper was out quickly the steal the ball away from him.

With two minutes to play, it was all Blackburn and a free kick from Olsson was well parried away by Joe Hart, before Robinson needed some skill to escape from Yaya Touré closing him down. Kalinic wanted a penalty for a push by Barry, but there was barely any contact. The points went to City, perhaps undeservedly so, and the visitors tightened their grip on fourth spot.

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