Silva shakes off his World Cup hangover with sterling show

Red Bull Salzburg 0 Manchester City 2
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The Independent Football

David Silva and Jo performed an unlikely double act as Manchester City got their Europa League campaign off to a flying start last night. Silva has endured a stop-start first few weeks since his arrival from Valencia and has even been linked with a swift move back to Spain.

But Spain's World Cup player provided City with their early lead before Jo, who staggeringly was the longest-serving outfield player in the City starting line-up despite spending the past 18 months away on loan, drilled home the second from an acute angle.

"David is a fantastic player, and for him it is a different situation now," crooned City manager Roberto Mancini. "He is playing a different kind of football. But after one month, he is ready to go 100 per cent for the team. He will be an important player for the future."

It was a fully merited triumph for a City team that at times showed the form that brought them that encouraging early-season triumph over Liverpool, and gave Mancini an indication that after recent Premier League setbacks against Sunderland and Blackburn, his highly expensive team are moving in the right direction again.

When Silva's £24m capture was announced right in the middle of the World Cup, it created a ripple of excitement to match any at City throughout a breathless summer.

Although not in the class of his former Valencia colleague David Villa, Silva had been attracting admiring glances across Europe for quite a while. As it turned out, Silva still had 11 days of what, for him, was a largely inactive World Cup to go, the consequent celebrations and late return for pre-season training playing havoc with the settling-in process.

That the two recent international breaks have taken Spain to Mexico and Argentina have hardly helped either, so suddenly, Silva was a man with something to prove.

Deep down, he must have retained plenty of confidence though. The assured manner with which he took the eighth-minute opportunity presented to him by Jo did not appear that of a man wracked by self-doubt.

By half-time, Silva would be reflecting he should have had a second too. Gareth Barry's fine pass to Carlos Tevez created that opportunity, the South American's square ball inviting Silva to shoot, only for Gerhard Tremmel to make a fine save.

That Wayne Bridge and Jo played a part in City's opener would have given both men cause for satisfaction. Bridge's first appearance of the season has been delayed because of an ankle operation and could not have been better timed considering Joleon Lescott is expected to be out for a fortnight with a groin strain.

For Jo it was a reminder that he still exists. It was the Brazilian's first start since December 2008, six months after his arrival from CSKA Moscow in a £17m deal which seemed certain to be consigned to the ill-fated variety.

It must be said, he did not look particularly threatening, even though he stretched out a leg to tee up Silva from Bridge's low cross. But the City manager stuck with him and when Tevez's shot was parried by Tremmel, Jo kept his composure to tuck home from an acute angle.

The goal came at a time when a watchable game had hit a flat spot, Salzburg hitting a brick wall in their attempts to come any closer than the free-kick Nikola Pokrivac flashed wide right after the break.

After the recent setbacks against Sunderland and Blackburn it was just what Mancini would have wanted and gives City fans optimism ahead of the visit of Juventus in a fortnight.

Red Bull Salzburg 4-4-2: Tremmel; Schwegler, Afolabi, Sekagya, Svento; Schiemer, Mendes Da Silva (Augustinussen, 74), Zarate, Leitgeb; Pokrivac (Jantscher, 54), Boghossian (Wallner, 54). Substitutes not used Walke (gk), Dudic, Hierlander, Alan.

Manchester City (4-4-2): Hart; Zabaleta, Kompany, K Touré, Bridge (Boyata, 68); Silva (Wright-Phillips 83), Y Touré, De Jong, Barry; Tevez (Vieira 79), Jo. Substitutes not used Given (gk), Richards, Milner, A Johnson.

Man of the match Silva.

Referee G Daloukas (Greece).

Attendance 25,100.

Match rating 7/10.

Group A

Results so far: Juventus 3 Lech Poznan 3, Red Bull Salzburg 0 Manchester City 2.

Man City's remaining fixtures: 30 Sept Juventus (h); 21 Oct Lech Poznan (h); 4 Nov Lech Poznan (a); 1 Dec Red Bull Salzburg (h); 16 Dec Juventus (a).

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