Manchester City v Blackburn report Barclays Premier League Feb 25 2012 - Manchester City FC

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  • Manchester City

    City 3

    Balotelli 29 Aguero 51 Dzeko 80

  • Blackburn Rovers

    Rovers 0

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  • 25 February 2012 19:25
  • Posted by Peter Ferguson

Ah, the power of love. Mario Balotelli dedicated his vital first goal to girlfriend Raffaella, and Sergio Aguero continued the seduction of his serenading fans.

This City team wear their hearts on their sleeve in the chase for the title. In the spirit of '68, they attack with abandon whenever the chance arises, and Rovers felt the force this time.

Balotelli broke their resistance in his first League game since his penalty winner against Tottenham a month earlier, celebrating with a T-shirt declaration of his feelings for Rafaella.

Then soon after the break Aguero ensured the Blues would celebrate a remarkable 18th home win in a row by despatching City's second when the overworked Paul Robinson finally made a mistake.

Team

It was left to substitute Edin Dzeko, an impact player of genuine menace, to add the icing with an unstoppable header from the outstanding Aleks Kolarov's cross. A last kick in the Balkans for Blackburn, who had no answers. 

So now Roberto Mancini's team face their destiny dozen, starting with Bolton's visit on Saturday, the 12 remaining games that can make them champions, but City can rest assured they won't all be so one-sided.

City would love to get into the habit of a quick goal, though they don't come any quicker than the one that put the skids under Porto in the midweek Europa League tie.

Nevertheless, Balotelli wasn't too far short with the first-minute effort he caught sweetly from Adam Johnson's pull-back, goalkeeper Robinson doing well to get down and parry

It was clearly going to be a busy afternoon for the former England man, with David Silva in dangerous form and flank raiders Kolarov and Pablo Zabaleta adding to the attacking intent.

When Robinson spilled an Adam Johnson shot that flew at him with some venom, Zabaleta was on it like a flash to pull back a sizzling cross that demanded a finish but failed to find one.

Minutes later the Rovers keeper had to be at his best, and at full stretch into the bargain, to keep out a free kick from Balotelli after Junior Hoilet halted Silva illegally.

Vinny

There was little he could do about the opening goal, however. Silva once more made the run and telling pass, allowing Kolarov to centre for Balotelli to stroke it home almost casually.

It was a finish of quality to give City a deserved 29th-minute lead, for Rovers had barely figured within sight of Joe Hart's goal, though Morten Pedersen demanded a penalty when they did.

The Blues survived that appeal against Nigel de Jong's challenge, then went back about their business, Robinson's legs denying Silva a goal from his snap shot at the near post.

The keeper and his harrassed defence had done well to restrict City to a single goal at half time, although they needed Yaya Toure's help as the midfielder blazed wide from close range.

And they had a stark reminder of Sergio Aguero's threat just before the whistle as the Argentine held off two separate challenges to steer inches wide from the tightest of angles

He's not a player you can leave unmarked, nor present a half-chance, as Robinson did after 51 minutes when he punched Silva's corner high in his direction. The return volley was perfect.

From that point on, once his team-mates had celebrated Aguero's 21st goal of the campaign, it was a matter of whether Rovers could resist the charge of the light blue brigade any further.  

Dzeko provided the extra goal that reflected City's superiority as they stretched their goal difference as well as that lead at the top of the table. Bolton might be a little nervous ...

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Match details

Saturday 25 February 2012, 5:30PM

Etihad Stadium Att:46,782
Barclays Premier League

Referee:
Mike Jones

Teams

Manchester City:

Hart, Zabaleta, Kompany, Lescott, Kolarov, De Jong, Y Toure (Milner, 85), Johnson (Pizarro, 70), Balotelli (Dzeko, 78), Silva, Aguero

Unused subs:
Pantilimon, Richards, Clichy, Nasri

Blackburn Rovers:

Robinson, Martin Olsson, Formica (Rochina, 70), Pedersen, Petrovic (N'Zonzi, 69), Dann, Marcus Olsson, Hoilett, Yakubu, Hanley, Orr

Unused subs:
Bunn, Modeste, Goodwillie, Vukcevic, Henley

Bookings:
Hanley, Orr

All times are taken from a live feed and are approximate at time of publishing.

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