1-0 (Tevez 7), 2-0 (Richards 39), 3-0 (Tevez 49), 4-1 (Tevez 90)
3-1 (Pedersen 71)
- Matchday centre
- Match reports
- 11 January 2010 22:29
- Posted by Tim Oscroft
Manchester City swept Blackburn Rovers aside to move into fourth place with a convincing win that was powered by a Carlos Tevez hat-trick.
The Argentinean pocket battleship’s superb December form carried over into the New Year, with City’s other goal coming from Micah Richards after the defender had rampaged through a retreating Rovers like a knife through butter. There were spells when City sat back and they conceded for the first time since the arrival of Roberto Mancini, but the night ended with the Blues in a Champions League spot having taken advantage of a weekend where other competitors did not see any action because of the weather.
Mancini’s penchant for springing surprises when it comes to selection was in evidence once again. Benjani retained his place from Middlesbrough while Robinho was on the bench, alongside Shaun Wright-Phillips who was named by the Manager for the first time since his arrival.
Just six minutes were showing on the clock when City took the lead. After Robinson and Samba had conspired to concede a corner between them, the former England first-choice failed to hold Petrov’s ball into the near post. Benjani was alert enough to quickly get the ball back in towards Carlos Tevez, who got enough on it with his arms carefully up high away from the ball to redirect it into the net for his eighth goal in his last seven league outings.
City did not go for the jugular after getting the early breakthrough, but they were barely threatened by the visitors. Anodyne long-range efforts from Givet, Nzonzi and Pedersen did not cause Shay Given any sleepless nights, but then neither did a free kick from Martin Petrov.
That City allowed Rovers their shots at goal, and a lack of bite up front, forced Mancini to give his side a few stern glares and once again he decided to change things around during the course of the match. Petrov and Bellamy swapped flanks midway through the half, with the Welshman getting more involved although a cross in the 37th minute that went high and wide will not make into any end-of-season compilations.
But within seconds those that braved a bitterly cold night to make it to the stadium saw something that would grace the DVD review of any season. Micah Richards galloped upfield from his own third of the pitch before unselfishly laying it off to Benjani to his left. The Zimbabwean should have scored but hit the post, however the young defender had continued his run and he slotted home the rebound under pressure from Ryan Nelsen. It was his third of the season, with the Dubious Goals Committee having found in his favour over the Arsenal goal from September, and thoroughly deserved for the bullocking run that had set the chance up.
Javi Garrido must have thought he could have a go himself, going on a decent run early in the second half before losing it to Rovers, who swept threateningly back down the pitch until Kompany saw off the danger.
Benjani, the man who has certainly come in from the cold of late, had had a hand in the first two goals and he was instrumental yet another special strike for Carlos Tevez. The big Zimbabwean took a high ball from Tevez over on the right flank and shook over Givet before cutting the ball back towards the edge of the box. Petrov did not get a shot in, but the Rovers defence had forgotten about the Argentinean who had powered on towards the box. He swept the ball in first-time by bending it around the helpless Robinson for his 11th league goal of the season, and he should have made it a dozen just before the hour, directing a diving header wide when it looked easier to score.
City’s keeper was finally called into action not once but twice by Brett Emerton after the hour, and these should have served as warnings that the visitors were not out of the match. With 19 minutes left Kompany was a touch too casual after collecting the ball from Given and Morten Gamst Pedersen took advantage, curling the ball around Given’s right hand in for the first goal conceded by City in over six hours of action.
The Manager, who had been waving players back into defence at 3-0 up in stoppage time at Molineux, was not happy and determined to ensure that City’s wobble did not turn into a crisis. Robinho was already on for Bellamy before Blackburn’s goal, and he had the ball in the net with 10 minutes to go – but the flag was up for offside. Within a minute or so he warmed Robinson’s hands with a stinging shot after the defence had backed off.
Santa Cruz missed the target with a shot from a tight angle, when a cross may have allowed Tevez to bag his hat-trick, but another South American combination in stoppage time saw justice prevail. Zabaleta stole in at a defensive throw-in from Blackburn to feed Robinho. He cut across the face of the box before rolling the ball to Carlos Tevez who flicked the ball in with the minimum of back-lift for a sublime goal.
Rovers were put out of their misery soon afterwards and City were into the top four. True, there will be tougher tests ahead, starting at Goodison on Saturday, but you can only beat who is put in front of you and City are on a roll right now. You get the impression that conceding a goal will have irked Roberto Mancini, but he will be smiling at where the Blues sit just over half-way through the league campaign.