Success comes frequently to Manchester City at Eastlands these days but rarely quite as easily as this. Another nudge towards the inaugural Europa League was applied via the gift-wrapping of three goals in 18 first-half minutes that leave Blackburn Rovers with something still to do to achieve survival.
Nothing better underlines the unusual nature of City's fourth successive win and eighth in nine home League games than the fact Blackburn's goalkeeper Paul Robinson did not make a serious save all afternoon.
Such was the dereliction of duty among the players in front of him that City needed to excel only in flashes to move closer to at least equalling their highest Premier League finish of eighth. But what flashes there were. If they are learning to win away as well, hmm, who knows? Not that their fans haven't heard that before.
"We took time to get a foothold but people can see we play good football," said their manager Mark Hughes. "The key is to make sure we keep progressing and try to add more quality in the summer."
In the absence of Goal of the Month contenders, how about Touches of the Month? Two reverse flicks by Elano were outrageous and one stunning lay-off by Robinho genius. Even the less cavalier Stephen Ireland joined in with a back-heel that brought the penalty for City's third goal.
Blackburn shaded the opening 27 minutes until Andre Ooijer scuffed a clearance from Elano's right-wing corner and, amid the continuing mêlée, Felipe Caicedo steered home left-footed from close range. The second, seven minutes later, was no easier for Blackburn's manager Sam Allardyce to stomach. His rearguard failed to deal with Elano's centre that was eventually laid back by Vincent Kompany for Robinho to drive in low from 15 yards.
Following the thou-shalt-not-pass cussedness of Blackburn's pressure-easing victory over Wigan last weekend, this was open house, the game over once the sliding Gaël Givet had unfortunately handled – a decision so fiercely contested as to bring three bookings for dissent. Elano added the real punishment.
The Brazilian was given the warmest of send-offs when replaced and no one, with the possible exception of Robinho, can get bums off these sky blue seats like he can. The contest, nevertheless, lacked goal attempts, although Benni McCarthy and Carlos Villanueva just cleared the bar.
A kiss of life was administered when Blackburn's substitute Keith Andrews drilled in the second rebound after Shay Given superbly saved El-Hadji Diouf's 65th-minute penalty – awarded for a foul by Nedum Onuoha on Morten Gamst Pedersen – and the Senegalese's follow-up. But it was no more than a flicker. "It's very unlike us to concede stupid goals off set-pieces," Allardyce said. "I can't knock the performance – just the marking at corners and not clearing correctly."
With Bolton their only remaining visitors, City stay on course to become the first club to go through a top-flight season without a home draw since Liverpool in 1963-64. Their Olé football is now winning football as well.
Referee: Mike Dean
Man of the match: Elano
Match rating: 7/10Reuse content