Carlos Tevez scored a hattrick as Manchester City moved up into fourth place in the English Premier League table with a 4-1 win over Blackburn Rovers at Eastlands here on Monday.
Victory meant Manchester City maintained their perfect record under Italian manager Roberto Mancini with their fourth straight success even if they did concede their first goal under the former Inter Milan boss when Morten Gamst Pedersen scored for Rovers to make it 3-1.
But the match belonged to Argentina’s Tevez who was in brilliant form as he made it 11 goals in his last nine games.
The former Manchester United striker opened the scoring in the seventh minute and, after Micah Richards’s superb second, Tevez struck two expert curling shots, the second in stoppage time, to seal City’s win.
City are now just seven points behind leaders Chelsea and the big-spenders, backed by their billionaire Abu Dhabi-based owner Sheikh Mansour, could yet have a big influence on the destiny of this season’s title.
By contrast, defeat left Rovers just three points above the relegation zone with all the teams below them having games in hand.
As new signing Patrick Vieira, the former Arsenal midfielder who signed from Serie champions Inter Milan last week, watched on from the stands, City wasted little time in giving the home crowd something else to cheer.
Rovers and England keeper Paul Robinson’s poor punch from Martin Petrov’s corner fell to Manchester City striker Benjani Mwaruwari and the Zimbabwean’s mishit shot went into the net off Tevez’s thigh.
Rovers looked as if they might go in at half-time just a goal behind until, six minutes before the break, Richards started and finished a fine move with Benjani again involved in the build-up.
Benjani’s shot hit the post but Richards slotted home the rebound.
Rovers manager Sam Allardyce sent on strikers David Hoilett and Nikola Kalinic at half-time but it was Manchester City who scored next, just four minutes into the second-half.
Tevez started the move from inside the Manchester City half before finding Benjani, a rejuvenated figure under Mancini, who gave a return ball to his fellow striker. Then Tevez raced towards the Rovers area before unleashing a magnificent 20-yard curling shot past a stunned Robinson.
Tevez might have had a hat-trick in the 57th minute but his header from eight yards out was off-target. Rovers pulled a goal back 19 minutes from time when Pedersen made the most of a poor first touch by Vincent Kompany to beat Shay Given from 16 yards but in the first minute of injury time, Tevez wrapped things up with a sublime finish.
City tells adebyor to return when ready
Togo captain Emmanuel Adebayor can have as much time off as he needs following the attack on his team in Angola and will not be asked to play for Manchester City until he is ready, his club manager Roberto Mancini said.
Adebayor is spending time in Lome, the capital of Togo, for three days of official mourning following last Friday’s attack in Angola which left two Togo delegation members dead and prompted the team to withdraw from the African Nations Cup.
Adebayor is expected back in England after that but is unlikely to play for City against Everton at Goodison Park on Saturday.
Second group claims responsibility
A second separatist group on Tuesday claimed it was behind last week’s deadly shooting on the Togolese football team in Angola’s oil-rich enclave of Cabinda.
The attack has already been claimed by Rodrigues Mingas, head of the Forces for the Liberation of the State of Cabinda-Military Position (FLEC-PM).