Football’s biggest opening day party went off with a seismic bang.
More than 8,000 City fans invaded Ewood Park for the raising of the Premier League curtain and in scenes reminiscent of ‘The Hill’ back in May 2000 the Blues army marched off celebrating long into the night and all the way home.
Goals from Emmanuel Adebayor in the second minute and Stephen Ireland in second half injury time sealed the deal for Mark Hughes’ side and gave the campaign the perfect start.
If a week is a long time in politics; then a year is certainly an eternity in football. Just ask anyone who follows the Blues.
Only Micah Richards survived from the side that ran out in the sunshine at Villa Park on the opening day of last term and subsequently left on the end of a big defeat.
That above anything else should pinpoint the huge amount of rejuvenation and regeneration that has been done on the pitch by Hughes and his coaches since they arrived.
Although he was without the considerable services of Vincent Kompany, Roque Santa Cruz, and Michael Johnson, the manager was able to hand Premier League City debuts to celebrated trio Emmanuel Adebayor, Kolo Toure and Gareth Barry. Carlos Tevez joined that illustrious list as a second half substitute.
Of course any new build has a snagging list attached to it, and the same applies to football teams, but on the evidence of today’s contest Mark Hughes’ tweaks ought to be minimal enough.
It certainly didn’t take long for City to make their intentions clear.
Seconds after skipper Richard Dunne had cleared off the line with the meat of his thigh, a Blues rapier like counter attack took them to the other end of a bursting at the seams Ewood Park.
Wright-Phillip’s pace earned him a vital yard of space and the England man showed excellent vision to lay the ball into the path of Adebayor whose sweetly struck shot from the edge of the box left Paul Robinson grasping thin air. It was a real little and large production!
Adebayor obviously likes the air in this part of the world having scored a hat-trick on his previous visit with former club Arsenal.
Blackburn, though, are unlikely to be pushovers this season, and made a deal of the running after falling behind. They huffed and puffed manfully until creating a gilt edged chance in the 25th minute that had the impeccable Shay Given flinging himself to block Chris Samba’s header from El Hadji Diouf’s corner.
The men in natty Black’s best opportunity to double the lead came and went in the 37th minute when Craig Bellamy’s reverse ball into the inside left channel allowed Robinho a sight of goal and he whipped in a fierce drive that Robinson helped over the bar.
The second half began in rain storm of near biblical proportions slickening up the lush surface. It ought to have helped the Blues more scientific and studious approach work but it was Given who was first of the goalkeepers into action falling to his left to fist away a decent header from the muscular and dangerous Roberts.
City’s response just after the hour came from Robinho whose low, skimming shot looked like aquaplaning into the far corner until Robinson’s fingertips helped it beyond the upright.
Tevez’ Premier League debut, after a mix up with numbers, came at the expense of Robinho in the 68th minute. By then Roberts had also departed for Rovers leaving the two men who had come closest to a second half goal both cooling their heels on the bench.
Tevez certainly injected some urgency into the Blues attacking play and with Bellamy switched to more direct wing duties down the left, the visitors looked the more dangerous side and Robinson was again gainfully employed saving well from the Argentine’s snap shot ten minutes from time.
There was suddenly a desperation about Rovers’ bid to get back on level terms and big gaps began to appear that were fully exploited by the Blues in injury time when Wright-Phillips pass sent Ireland scurrying clear and the player of the season was the coolest man inside the stadium as he circled Robinson and eyed up his options before slotting home in front of the delirious City travelling army.
Superman and City are off and flying.