Premier League - Dzeko boosts City hopes
Mon, 25 Apr 21:54:00 2011
Roberto Mancini introduced the Bosnian striker with 18 minutes remaining and it took him just three minutes to have a decisive impact on the game as he fired his first goal since arriving in a £27 million move from Wolfsburg in January.
Victory sees City open up a four point advantage over Tottenham - their nearest rivals for the fourth and final Champions League spot - and move within five points of third-placed Arsenal - having played a game less than the Gunners - with five fixtures remaining this season.
The result was no less significant for Blackburn, who remain in 16th and just a point above the drop zone after their 10th league game without a win.
With a Lancashire derby with Bolton next up, and games against West Ham, Manchester United and Wolves to follow, the former champions' Premier League status is under serious threat.
City boss Roberto Mancini sent out an unchanged XI following his side's famous FA Cup semi-final win over local rivals Manchester United over a week ago, and the Blues started brimming with the kind of confidence a win like that can instil.
With Blackburn happy to sit back and hope to soak up the pressure, City were able to enjoy plenty of possession early on and they nearly took the lead just four minutes after kick-off, David Silva hitting an upright with a fantastic first-time volley from the edge of the box.
Silva was central to much of City's early good work, the Spaniard conducting play as he roamed through midfield with intent, but he could not find the key to unlock the door to Blackburn's disciplined back line.
With the visitors failing to capitalise on their superior possession and territorial advantage, and as Silva's influence on the game waned, Blackburn slowly began to find their feet in the game.
Once they had, they were able to fashion a couple of chances, Jason Roberts falling to the turf in the box after having his heels clipped by Vincent Kompany - no penalty the decision by referee Andre Marriner - and the giant Chris Samba seeing a pair of headed efforts go wide as the half drew to a close.
A Yaya Toure header - tipped over by Paul Robinson - threatened to put an end to Blackburn's momentum minutes into the second half, but the hosts were in no mood to allow that to happen and soon afterwards Jason Roberts should have put them one up, the striker misjudging his leap to meet Michel Salgado's cross and glancing a header wide. Martin Olsson slid in at the back post but his effort went into the side netting.
Blackburn were now enjoying the better of play, but City still posed a threat on the break, as demonstrated by Silva, who sent a curler just past the upright on 68 minutes.
And it was on the break when Dzeko swooped to open his City account. Gareth Barry pulled the ball back for Silva, who screwed a pass across the face of goal where Phil Jones could only direct his attempted clearance to the Bosnia striker. Two touches later the ball was in the back of the net and the City fans behind the goal were jumping for joy.
Jones had a chance to redeem himself with a header with two minutes remaining as Blackburn sought a way back into the game, and Olsson brought a smart save out of Joe Hart with a free-kick deep in injury time, but City held firm to record a vital victory in their pursuit of Champions League football.
While City can look forward to the very real prospect of playing in Europe's premier club competition next season, Blackburn must now face up to a relegation dogfight as their disappointing campaign reaches a climax.
Match Highlights: Blackburn 0-1 Manchester City