MAN CITY 5, BLACKBURN ROVERS 0
Alvaro Negredo fired Manchester City into the fourth round of the FA Cup with Budweiser with victory against plucky Championship club Blackburn Rovers.
The Spaniard struck either side of half time to set City on the road to another impressive victory.
Edin Dzeko also netted a brace and Sergio Aguero, too, found the net as City made no mistake in the third-round replay having been held to a 1-1 draw at Ewood Park earlier this month.
It looked as though it might be another nervy night as City toiled for most of the opening period against a well organised and battling Blackburn side before Negredo struck his 20th and 21st goals of the season to seal a home tie against Watford.
It then became a procession in the second half as City took their goals tally in all competitions to a remarkable 99 goals.
And it was the seventh time this season that City have won at home by a margin of 5-0 or greater.
It was another highly satisfying night for City manager Manuel Pellegrini who said: “I am very happy, though it was difficult and not a 5-0.
“Blackburn played very well in the first half and gave us no space. It was important we scored after 45 minutes.
“In the second half, we had space and had lot of opportunities to score, but congratulations to Blackburn who are a very good team.”
Pellegrini added that while it is important that City win a trophy, he wants to play with style and to score goals.
While the City manager is happy with his side’s attacking play, he is also pleased with the defending following back-to-back clean sheets at home saying they are a well balanced team at the moment.
Pellegrini added that it is important to have front men Negredo, Dzeko and Aguero is sparkling form.
“We have three top players and I am absolutely convinced we need the three of them, indeed four of when you also include Stevan Jovetic,” he said.
City made eight changes from the side which won at Newcastle on Sunday with Fernandinho, Dzeko and Negredo the survivors.
There were recalls for Costel Pantilimon, Micah Richards, Joleon Lescott, Matija Nastasic, Gael Clichy, Javi Garcia, James Milner and Jesus Navas.
Rovers’ hopes of causing an upset were hit as they were without top scorer Jordan Rhodes and key defender Scott Dann, both through injury.
As torrential rain fell on the Etihad Stadium from kick off, the football was equally damp and dreary with little spark.
Dzeko had two early efforts for City, but each failed to find the target as Rovers defended resolutely with a bank of five midfield players protecting the back four.
Rovers’ keeper Paul Robinson wasn’t called into action until the 26th minute when he beat away a 30-yard drive from Javi Garcia.
There were a couple of escapes as City twice fired dangerous balls across the face of goal without anybody able to get on the end of them.
That changes in first-half stoppage time when Fernandinho floated a delightful cross from the right for Negredo to head home at the far post, his 20th goal of his debut campaign at City.
And Negredo struck again within two minutes of the restart to seal victory. Defender Matthew Kilgannon failed to cut out a long diagonal through ball as the striker burst clear to fire high past substitute keeper Simon Eastwood who replaced the injured Robinson at the break.
If City thought they were home and dry they were mistaken as Rovers produced a gutsy fightback as substitute Joshua King headed just over and then forced a fine save from Pantilimon. Jason Lowe then saw a drive flash just wide.
City eased their nerves by adding a third goal moments later when Navas cut the ball back from the right for Dzeko, lurking at the near post, to fire high into the roof of the net for his 14th of the season.
Aguero, out for a month through injury, made a dream return finding the net within 50 seconds of his introduction after replacing Negredo.
Dzeko turned provider with a neat turn and pass to set up Aguero who slotted a shot low past Eastwood for his 20th goal of the season.
That was soon followed by a fifth goal as Navas crossed from the left with Dzeko scoring with a shot which flew inside Eastwood’s near post.
And Milner almost made it 100 goals for the season in the dying minutes as he curled a free kick agonisingly wide.