Foreign trio boost City

2009-05-02 18:44

Manchester - Felipe Caicedo, Robinho and Elano were on the scoresheet as Manchester City boosted their challenge for European football next season with a 3-1 victory over Blackburn on Saturday.

Sam Allardyce's Rovers had the better start at Eastlands but it was a banner day for City's South American contingent and Ecuador striker Caicedo opened the scoring from close range for his seventh of the season.

City moved two in front when Robinho shot through a crowd of bodies in the 34th minute for his 15th goal of the campaign and his compatriot Elano added a third from the spot in first-half added time to give City a comfortable cushion.

Blackburn trimmed City's lead when Keith Andrews touched in after Shay Given saved El-Hadji Diouf's penalty.

But they did not find a second goal to really pressure City and remain six points above the Premier League's bottom three with three games remaining.

In contrast to Blackburn's struggles, City are just one point behind seventh placed West Ham, who fill the final spot for a place in the Europa League.

Relegation-threatened Blackburn once again employed giant Congo centre-back Chris Samba as a striker and the visitors made the better start.

Samba caused plenty of early problems for the City defence and the Australian midfielder Vince Grella forced a fine save from Given with a curling effort from 20 yards after he had beaten Vincent Kompany.

And midway through the opening period, Richard Dunne's poor clearance was met by veteran Turkish midfielder Tugay just outside the area but he could only drive wide.

In the 27th minute, City took the lead when Blackburn failed to deal with a corner from Elano.

Andre Ooijer's clearance from six yards bounced off Nedum Onuoha and Kompany played a short pass to Caicedo who finished from close range.

Eleven minutes before the break Kompany's header was blocked after Elano crossed from the left but Robinho swept a shot past goalkeeper Paul Robinson to double the advantage.

Blackburn desperately attempted to regain a foothold in the game and Dutch defender Ooijer flashed a shot well wide from 30 yards.

Three minutes before the interval Diouf sent over a cross from the right and South African forward Benni McCarthy's header flew just over Given's crossbar.

But in first half added time, Blackburn gave away a soft penalty when Stephen Ireland was sent into the area and his low cross was handled by French defender Gael Givet.

Elano sent Robinson the wrong way from the spot to send City in 3-0 ahead at the interval.

McCarthy had suffered an early injury and had to be replaced at the interval by Chilean winger Carlos Villanueva, but Rovers continued to struggle and Robinho almost added a fourth when he curled a shot just wide from the edge of the area.

Tugay hit a tame shot straight at Given, but with 25 minutes left Blackburn were handed a lifeline when Onuoha was penalised for a challenge on Morten Gamst Pedersen in the area.

Diouf's weak spot kick was easily saved by Given but substitute Andrews stabbed in from close range with the follow-up.