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3-min read

Manchester City ease past Blackburn 3-0

Not since Newcastle in 1996 has a team won as many successive home league games from the start of a season.

test sharma | Associated Press

Updated:February 26, 2012, 1:26 AM IST
Manchester City ease past Blackburn 3-0
Not since Newcastle in 1996 has a team won as many successive home league games from the start of a season.

Manchester: Manchester City extended their lead at the top of the Premier League to a provisional five points, barely breaking into a sweat at fortress Etihad Stadium to beat Blackburn 3-0 with an 18th consecutive league victory at home.

Mario Balotelli opened the scoring with half an hour gone and Sergio Aguero added City's second shortly after half-time. Edin Dzeko headed a third in the 81st minute.

The win equals Newcastle's Premier League record of winning their first 13 home league games this season and Roberto Mancini's team has not dropped any points in front of their own fans in 12 months.

Mancini's side is now five points ahead of city rivals United, who play at Norwich on Sunday.

At the end of a week in which Carlos Tevez returned to training with City after three months of unauthorized leave, his rival strikers all scored to prove that the Argentina international will have his work cut out regaining his starting place.

Balotelli took just a minute to threaten Blackburn when he collected Adam Johnson's pass and had a thumping shot pushed away by Blackburn goalkeeper Paul Robinson.

A couple of minutes later Blackburn had their only real effort of the opening period, when Morten Gamst Pedersen's free kick fell for Grant Hanley and the defender's shot was deflected wide of goal.

Johnson was causing plenty of problems down the City right and after collecting Sergio Aguero's pass his powerful effort was pushed away by Robinson.

Balotelli had a free kick blocked by Robinson but put City ahead in the 30th. Yaya Toure started a quick break and Aleksander Kolarov clipped over a cross from the left that was touched in from close range by Balotelli.

The Italian striker, who unveiled a "Why always me?" T-shirt after scoring in the 6-1 win at Manchester United in October, lifted his shirt to reveal a "Raffaella ti amo" slogan, presumably directed at his girlfriend Raffaella Fico.

Robinson was worked once again when he pulled off a flying save from Vincent Kompany's flick before Aguero passed up two more opportunities.

Johnson had a low effort deflected wide but City doubled their advantage from the corner that followed. Silva sent the ball over from the right and Robinson pushed the ball straight up in the air, allowing Aguero to guide a shot through a crowd of bodies into the back of the net.

Blackburn continued to offer no threat going forward and even when they managed a rare attack, Junior Hoilett's shot was blocked by his teammate Yakubu.

Just when City looked to have settled for their two-goal lead, substitute Dzeko powered in a header from another excellent cross from Kolarov.

City's sensational home form is allowing the side to zero in on a first English title since 1968. Not since Newcastle in 1996 has a team won as many successive home league games from the start of a season.

"People say being leader you have the pressure from those behind, but I think it is the opposite," City captain Vincent Kompany said.

"We seem to have found our form again," Kompany said. "There's no such thing as an easy game and for us to win the league we've got to do the same, week in week out."

In other matches on Saturday, Terry Connor's first match in temporary charge of Wolverhampton Wanderers started disastrously with Papiss Demba Cisse and Jonas Gutierrez putting Newcastle 2-0 ahead after 18 minutes of their match at St. James' Park.

However, Matt Jarvis reduced Wolves' deficit at the start of the second half and Kevin Doyle snatched the equalizer in the 66th, denting sixth-placed Newcastle's hopes of a finish in the Champions League spots and lifting Wolves out of the bottom three.

"All credit to the lads. They came out in the second half, did the same things and got their reward in the end," said Connor, who will be in charge until the end of the season.

Queens Park Rangers slipped to fourth from bottom after losing 1-0 at home to Fulham.

Pavel Pogrebnyak scored the early winner, with the hosts' chances of a comeback dashed by the sending-off of midfielder Samba Diakite in the 33rd for two yellow cards.

Sunderland, rejuvenated since Martin O'Neill's arrival as manager in December, were brought back down to earth with a 4-0 loss at West Bromwich Albion. Peter Odemwingie scored twice and James Morrison and Keith Andrews added the others for West Brom in their thrashing of Sunderland, building on their 5-1 rout of Wolves a fortnight ago.

Wigan stay last after a 0-0 draw at home to Aston Villa, whose striker Darren Bent was carried off with an ankle injury.

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