English Premier League
Saturday 1 October 2011, 15.00 KO
City: Hart, Zabaleta, Kompany (c), Lescott, Kolarov, Y Toure, Milner, A Johnson (Savic 79), Silva, Balotelli (Dzeko 88), Aguero (Nasri 28)
Unused: Pantilimon, Clichy, Barry, de Jong
Goals: Johnson (56), Balotelli (59), Nasri (73), Savic (87)
Referee: Phil Dowd
Man of the Match: James Milner
The game got off to a lively start, with both teams feeling each other out. Balotelli gave away a foul on the left flank when chasing down a lost cause, before Aguero couldn’t quite be slipped in by Kolarov, as the visitors looked for an early goal. Zabaleta put the ball into the box, but it was well cut out before reaching Silva. A deep cross from Goodwillie was then overhit for the hosts.
Balotelli should have put the visitors into the lead with just under ten minutes played, after Silva had weaved his way into the box and forced a good save from Robinson. The rebound fell to the Italian on the edge of the box, but his effort was skied over the bar, with the goal at his mercy.
A brilliant tackle from Milner denied Yakubu a shooting opportunity inside the box as he nicked the ball away from the Blackburn forward, after a great run from Junior Hoilett split the visiting defence apart. Adam Johnson then scuffed a shot from the edge of the box right at Robinson. Aguero then dashed inside from a jinked Johnson pass, but Robinson was there first to clear.
Milner then raced onto a short pass from Dann inside his own area to pull the ball back for Nasri, who had come on for the injured Aguero. But the former Arsenal man’s shot was deflected behind for a corner, and City couldn’t make the most of a gift from the Blackburn defence. An Adam Johnson cross was then just too high for Balotelli, before Milner smashed a shot wide on his wrong foot.
Some more neat City build up on 36 minutes gave Balotelli the chance to strike from the edge of the box, but his effort was a yard wide of the post, as Robinson flung himself at it. At the other end, Hart was down smartly to hold on to a shot from Yakubu. Johnson then weaved his way into the Blackburn box, but he wasn’t able to find anybody in support as he was crowded out. Balotelli then tried an overhead kick, but the ball bounced well wide of the goal.
Silva and Zabaleta then linked up well down the right flank before the Argentine looked for Balotelli with a low cross. He got in front of his defender and got to the ball first, but his side-footed effort flashed just wide of the post and hit the side netting. It was level at the break.
City started the second half on top, as Nasri and Silva combined to give the Spaniard the chance to flash shoot across goal. It took a flick on the way through and bounced behind for a corner, but it came to nothing. Balotelli was then inches away from giving City the lead in spectacular fashion, as he tried a curling effort from inside the box, but it bounced off the post with Robinson beaten.
Milner was then in position to steal the ball inside his own area, as City began to press the Blackburn defence and the home side had an isolated attack. Then, from a corner, the visitors took the lead. Kolarov swung the ball into the box and it was cleared to Adam Johnson. From 20 yards, he curled it towards the top corner and found the back of the net, with Robinson nowhere near it.
And, minutes later, it got better for the visitors. Yaya Toure spread the play to Kolarov on the left and some neat play between Silva and Nasri let the Frenchman get in a cross. It was Balotelli at the front post who got across his man and toe poked the ball at waist height to beat Robinson from close range.
With just under 20 minutes to play, Nasri then finished the game for the visitors. From a Blackburn corner, the away side broke away with a five-on-four. Nasri found Silva inside the box and he pulled it back to the Frenchman and his shot was deflected off Lowe and into the bottom corner.
Kolarov then tried an effort from very long range, but Robinson was able to swallow it up comfortably, as City looked in total control. Hart was then alert to push a long rage effort over the bar, as Blackburn looked for an unlikely way back into the match. Hart then had to claw a Pedersen corner away, before he was there to pick up the loose ball in the box, as the hosts struggled to carve out a decent shooting chance.
Then, from a City corner with the game heading towards stoppage time, Stefan Savic got himself his first City goal. He rose unmarked to meet Nasri’s left wing corner and nodded it into the top corner, with Robinson left flapping at thin air. And it was the perfect response to the disappointment of midweek.