Manchester City cruised into the FA Cup fourth round at the second time of asking as they beat Blackburn Rovers 5-0 at the Etihad. The Championship side frustrated City in a 1-1 draw in the original third-round match between the sides 10 days ago and the replay began in similar.
But Alvaro Negredo’s header in first-half injury time crucially broke the deadlock and the in-form front man got a second shortly after the interval. His strike partner Edin Dzeko then got a brace himself, while perhaps the highlight of the evening for City fans came in between when Sergio Aguero marked his return from injury to with a goal.
The match was certainly an unwelcome one for Manuel Pellegrini, whose side continues to compete on four fronts this season. The Chilean took the chance to rotate hi lineup, albeit with Vincent Kompany given the night off, along with Yaya Toure and David Silva, who nursed knocks, while Pablo Zabaleta and Joe Hart warmed the bench.
It took a while for the hosts to get going against a Blackburn side just outside the playoff places in the Championship, but once they did the goals came thick and fast. There was little surprise in the man who got the breakthrough. Negredo made it six goals in four appearances by meeting Fernandinho’s cross with a powerful header from six yards.
A second goal on the evening was not long in coming. Just two minutes after half-time, the Blackburn defense failed to cut out a long pass across the box from substitute Aleksandar Kolarov and Negredo was left in the clear to execute a stylish dink over the advancing Blackburn goalkeeper Simon Eastwood, who had replaced Paul Robinson at the interval.
Midway through the second half, Dzeko got himself in on the act. Jesus Navas was the creator, using his pace to get to the byline down the right, before hooking the ball back to the near post, where the Bosnian met it with a powerful strike into the roof of the net.
Then came the moment City fans had been waiting for when Aguero made his entrance off the substitute’s bench to a massive roar after a month out through injury. His impact was immediate. Mere seconds after coming on the lethal Argentine received Dzeko’s short pass 12 yards out and instantly turned and struck a low-left-footed effort into the net for his 20th goal of the season.
With 11 minutes remaining the rout was complete. Again a significant debt for the goal was owed to Navas, this time the Spaniard producing a glorious near-post cross that left Dzeko with a simple task to direct the ball past Eastwood.