Blackburn Rovers 0
Manchester City 1
A late and first Premier League goal for Manchester City’s record signing Edin Dzeko puts the FA Cup Finalists in pole position to grab the final Champions League place next season from fifth placed Tottenham Hotspur.
It was a deserved victory for Roberto Mancini’s side but the result leaves Blackburn Rovers staring at the relegation trapdoor and with no victories in eleven games and with matches at West Ham and Wolves to come then victory at home to Bolton Wanderers on Saturday is absolutely crucial. Lose that and it’s difficult to see Steve Kean’s side surviving.
City might have taken the lead after three minutes but with Paul Robinson beaten David Silva’s 20 yard drive came back into play off the inside of the post. With Adam Johnson looking lively fullback Gael Givet experienced a difficult first half hour as the home side struggled to stay in the match and there was relief when Michel Salgado cleared Gareth Barry’s header off the line.
However with David Dunn playing some neat passes Blackburn were able after the half hour mark to seek some relief and Chris Samba might have done better with a headed opportunity. He certainly should have with his second headed chance on 40 minutes but with Joe Hart beaten the big central defender missed by a whisker. It meant the sides ran off with neither having troubled the scorer.
Yaya Toure saw his header palmed away by Robinson as City surged forward on the restart. Yet with Phil Jones playing marvellously at the centre of the home defence Rovers were by no means overawed, although Silva might have done better with his shot on the hour mark.
On 71 minutes Dzeko replaced Johnson and three minutes later he delivered the killer touch. It came after a desperate attempt by Jones to clear Silva’s cross landed at the £27 million man’s feet and with Givet advancing he curled the ball into the net past the despairing dive of Robinson. Cue ecstatic celebrations amongst the 4,500 travelling fans whose constant chants throughout the game of ‘Who put the ball in the Munichs' net?’ is unlikely to be welcomed warmly by the Football Association at next months Cup Final.
Only once did Rovers seriously look like they might grab a draw, Jones heading over with just four minutes remaining. It’s strongly rumoured that when Indian company Venky took over Blackburn in December they didn’t realise that English Football extended beyond the Premiership and that a club doing badly could be relegated. Certainly it’s almost beyond belief that they would have replaced experienced manager Sam Allardyce with Kean if they knew anything about football, and Championship football beckons.