'Fantastic' Dzeko gives City room to breathe

Blackburn Rovers 0 Manchester City 1

When Edin Dzeko won the Bundesliga title with Wolfsburg, he celebrated by lighting up a vast cigar on the pitch. This was another Havana moment.

Fernando Torres's agonies in front of goal have meant the fact that the Bosnian had not found the net in the Premier League since his arrival in January had rather got lost in the wash.

Steve McClaren, who had sanctioned his move from the home of Volkswagen, was high in the stands at Ewood Park commentating for radio when Dzeko, who had been brought on as a substitute, collected David Silva's deflected shot, composed himself and rammed the ball home in front of the City supporters jammed into the Darwen End.

McClaren had been adamant that Dzeko would find his feet in England, though he might not have anticipated such a spluttering start. It may in passing remove some pressure from the shoulders of Mario Balotelli. His manager, Roberto Mancini, thought the Italian striker had one of his better games for Manchester City, although his Blackburn counterpart, Steve Kean, noted that by standing directly in front of Paul Robinson when Dzeko shot, he was in an offside position.

Balotelli needs support on as well as off the pitch and Dzeko might be the man to provide it. The Bosnian's goal was a big moment against a Blackburn side that, after a dreadful start, fought to the very end. Mancini had two tasks in April; to steer City to the FA Cup final and ensure next month's encounter with Tottenham does not become a repeat of last year's bare-knuckle fight for a place in the Champions League.

The first hurdle was triumphantly crossed at Wembley, but a stalemate here would have tightened nerve-endings in Manchester and Abu Dhabi. The lead over Tottenham would have been a flimsy two points and given Tottenham's astonishing record at Eastlands – they have won six of their last seven encounters there – that would have been too thin. Manchester City, who had not won away from Eastlands since Boxing Day, now have room to breathe.

"He is a fantastic striker," said Mancini of the man he had paid Wolfsburg £27m for. "He had problems because he didn't play many games and when he did he didn't score. We played fantastically in the first half and might have scored three times but when Blackburn started to play the long ball it caused us many difficulties. It was important that we fought for every ball because a top squad has to win a game like tonight."

It is three months since Blackburn last won here and they began as if swamped by nerves and overawed by the occasion. They ended it with Robinson charging upfield and Martin Olsson forcing Joe Hart into a fine low save; it was too little and just too late.

"We were excellent in the first 20 minutes of the second half and that was the period in which we had to score," Kean reflected. "We feel very hard done by. We've given everything and we are gutted. Every single point recently has been hard to get but we gave Manchester City's back-four a hard time."

Not for the first 20 minutes they didn't. This was City's first match since they overcame Manchester United in the FA Cup semi-final. Mancini kept the same team that had won at Wembley and they played with a freedom these kinds of victories inspire. Sometimes, it resembled a training exercise with Blackburn playing the part of the cones.

Eventually, the home side did claw their way into the evening and might have had a penalty when Vincent Kompany caught Jason Roberts's ankle in the area. However, it was past the half-hour mark when Blackburn fashioned their first concrete chance when Chris Samba met Salgado's cross. The ball slid wide of Hart's post and the Blackburn captain swore fiercely. It was not to be the last expletive of the evening.

Blackburn Rovers (4-4-2): Robinson; Salgado, Samba, P Jones, Givet (Diouf, 85); Emerton, Dunn (Rochina, 63), J Jones, Olsson, Benjani (Kalinic, 71), Roberts. Substitutes not used Bunn (gk), Formica, Pedersen, Hanley. Booked J Jones, Emerton.

Manchester City (4-2-3-1): Hart; Zabaleta, Kompany, Lescott, Kolarov; De Jong, Barry; Johnson (Dzeko, 72), Y Toure, Silva; Balotelli (Vieira, 83). Substitutes not used Taylor (gk), Milner, Wright-Phillips, Jo, Boyata. Booked Barry, De Jong, Balotelli.

Possession Blackburn 46% Man City 54%.

Shots on target Blackburn 6 Man City 5.

Man of the match De Jong. Match rating 7/10.

Referee A Marriner (West Midlands). Att 23,529.

Arts and Entertainment
'A voice untroubled by time': Kate Bush
musicReview: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
Life and Style
Cooked up: reducing dietary animal fat might not be as healthy as government advice has led millions of people to believe
healthA look at how governments started advising incorrectly on diets
News
peopleJustin Bieber accuses papparrazzi of acting 'recklessly' after car crash
Life and Style
tech
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
people
Voices
voices
Sport
Roger Federer is greeted by Michael Jordan following his victory over Marinko Matosevic
tennisRoger Federer gets Michael Jordan's applause following tweener shot in win over Marinko Matosevic
Arts and Entertainment
Oppressive atmosphere: the cast of 'Tyrant'
tvIntroducing Tyrant, one of the most hotly anticipated dramas of the year
News
i100
News
Ukrainian Leonid Stadnik, 37, 2.59 meter (8,5 feet) tall, the world's tallest living man, waves as he poses for the media by the Chevrolet Tacuma car presented to him by President of Ukraine Viktor Yushchenko in Kiev on March 24, 2008.
newsPeasant farmer towered at almost 8'5'' - but shunned the limelight
News
Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon in ‘The Front Page’, using an old tech typewriter
media
Life and Style
Could a robot sheepdog find itself working at Skipton Auction Mart?
techModel would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Suha Arraf’s film ‘Villa Touma’ (left) is set in Ramallah and all the actresses are Palestinian
film
Sport
Angel Di Maria poses with Louis van Gaal after signing for Manchester United
sportWinger arrives from Real Madrid and could make debut on Saturday
Arts and Entertainment
Kingston Road in Stockton is being filmed for the second series of Benefits Street
arts + entsFilming for Channel 4 has begun despite local complaints
Arts and Entertainment
Hooked on classical: cellist Rachael Lander began drinking to combat panic attacks
musicThe cellist Rachael Lander’s career was almost destroyed by alcohol she drank to fight stage fright. Now she’s playing with Elbow...
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

The science of herding is cracked

Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

This tyrant doesn’t rule

It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?
Rachael Lander interview: From strung out to playing strings

From strung out to playing strings

Award-winning cellist Rachael Lander’s career was almost destroyed by the alcohol she drank to fight stage fright. Now she’s playing with Elbow and Ellie Goulding
The science of saturated fat: A big fat surprise about nutrition?

A big fat surprise about nutrition?

The science linking saturated fats to heart disease and other health issues has never been sound. Nina Teicholz looks at how governments started advising incorrectly on diets
Emmys 2014 review: Can they genuinely compete with the Oscars

Can they genuinely compete with the Oscars?

The recent Emmy Awards are certainly glamorous, but they can't beat their movie cousins
On the road to nowhere: A Routemaster trip to remember

On the road to nowhere

A Routemaster trip to remember
Hotel India: Mumbai's Taj Mahal Palace leaves its darker days behind

Hotel India

Mumbai's Taj Mahal Palace leaves its darker days behind
10 best pencil cases

Back to school: 10 best pencil cases

Whether it’s their first day at school, uni or a new project, treat the student in your life to some smart stationery
Arsenal vs Besiktas Champions League qualifier: Gunners know battle with Turks is a season-defining fixture

Arsenal know battle with Besiktas is a season-defining fixture

Arsene Wenger admits his below-strength side will have to improve on last week’s show to pass tough test
Pete Jenson: Athletic Bilbao’s locals-only transfer policy shows success does not need to be bought

Pete Jenson: A Different League

Athletic Bilbao’s locals-only transfer policy shows success does not need to be bought
This guitar riff has been voted greatest of all time

The Greatest Guitar Riff of all time

Whole Lotta Votes from Radio 2 listeners
Britain’s superstar ballerina

Britain’s superstar ballerina

Alicia Markova danced... every night of the week and twice on Saturdays
Berlin's Furrie invasion

Berlin's Furrie invasion

2000 fans attended Eurofeurence
‘It was a tidal wave of terror’

‘It was a tidal wave of terror’

Driven to the edge by postpartum psychosis