MAN CITY 1, WEST BROM 0
Edin Dzeko strengthened his claims for a place in Manchester City’s FA Cup final starting line up on Saturday by scoring the match-winning goal in their Premier League match against West Brom.
The big Bosnian striker gave a timely reminder to City manager Roberto Mancini as he scored his 21st goal of the season.
And despite being City’s top scorer, Dzeko is still unable to command a regular place in the side ahead of Carlos Tevez and Sergio Aguero.
Mancini would not be drawn on whether Dzeko is in line for a starting spot on Saturday, but praised his striker.
He said: “I am happy because Edin scored an important goal, one which means we are in the Champions League.
“He is one of the best players in Europe, but he can get better. He needs to work harder and because of his body he needs to play often.
“Sometimes he doesn’t play and it is difficult for him, but he has scored important goals for us this season.”
The sights of City, now assured of Champions League football, were clearly on Wembley as manager Roberto Mancini made eight changes from the side which started at Swansea last Saturday saying he needed “fresh players.”
Joe Hart, James Milner and Samir Nasri were the only survivors as the much-changed side clearly affected its continuity and fluency as the likes of Aguero, David Silva and Gareth Barry were held in reserve on the bench while captain Vincent Kompany, Yaya Toure and Pablo Zabaleta didn’t feature.
Indeed, the Baggies could have found themselves 3-0 ahead inside six minutes when Romelu Lukaku could have completed a whirlwind hat trick.
Hart beat out an angled shot from the on-loan Chelsea striker who also fired agonisingly wide and headed straight at the keeper when well placed.
Markus Rosenberg also saw a decent drive flash just wide and another effort saved by Hart as the visitors were a threat in the opening half hour.
City only threatened sporadically, their best chances falling to Tevev who fired just over from outside the box and James Milner who blazed wide at the far post from eight yards following Nasri’s left-wing cross.
But as the half worse on, City began to seize control as Tevez cut in from the left and saw his shot smash against the crossbar.
The breakthrough came in the 35th minute when Tevez broke away on the right and his cross was volleyed home by Dzeko low to the left of keeper Boaz Myhill from 14 yards for his 21st goal of the season.
And Jack Rodwell three times came close to doubling the lead when a goalbound shot was blocked, an effort moments later deflected behind for a corner before a shot flew well over.
Then at the end of the half a drive from Milner struck the upright as City ought to have had more than a 1-0 advantage
The Baggies came within a whisker of equalising soon after the restart when Javier Garcia conceded a needless free kick just outside the box.
Rosenberg’s free kick crashed against the crossbar with a follow-up header from Billy Jones well kept out by Hart who then finger-tipped a drive from James Morrison round the post for a corner.
City came close to finding the net again midway through the half when Rodwell and Tevez had shots blocked before Rodwell, following up, saw his angled effort well beaten out by Myhill.
The Baggies remained a threat as Rosenberg forced a diving save from Hart while substitute Shane Long fired into the side netting barely 60 seconds after his introduction, but City held on for a winning send off for Wembley.