Thursday, 24 February 2011

Man City 3 - 0 Aris Salonika (agg 3 - 0)

Edin Dzeko scored two early goals and Yaya Toure added a third to ease Manchester City past Aris Salonika and into the Europa League last 16.
City were held to a 0-0 draw in the first leg but £27m January signing Dzeko slotted the hosts in front before curling in a second soon after.
After Mario Balotelli's shot hit a post Toure fired home from distance via a deflection to seal a 3-0 aggregate win.
City will next play Dynamo Kiev after they best Besiktas 8-1 on aggregate.
And if they can maintain the level of performance that put Aris out of contention inside 13 minutes, they should be confident of reaching the quarter-finals.
Blues boss Roberto Mancini believes a strong run in the Europa League can provide ideal preparation for a crack at next season's Champions League if the club qualify.
His side can certainly expect tougher examinations along the way, but at times against Aris they played with the swagger of a team that already belong at Europe's top table.
Mancini deserves his share of the credit for a positive formation which featured just one holding midfielder instead of the usual two and a three-pronged attack of Dzeko, Balotelli and Carlos Tevez.
When City were on the front foot, that turned into a four-strong forward line including World Cup winner David Silva - and their Greek opponents simply had no answer.
The visitors may have been roared on by around 5,000 boisterous supporters but, with only one win in their previous eight games, they arrived low on confidence and it showed from the first whistle.
Two clumsy challenges gave Aleksandar Kolarov a couple of early sighters and although he was wasteful on both occasions, it was a case third time lucky when the Serbian left-back sent a booming pass upfield.
Aris centre-back Nikos Lazaridis made a complete hash of his attempted clearance and then fell to the ground, allowing Dzeko to go clean through and plant a precise right-foot finish into the bottom corner.
City have suffered only one European defeat at home since moving to Eastlands in 2003 and they were already looking good value to maintain that proud record.
The competition favourites had Aris on the ropes and it was not long before they were two goals to the good, yet this time it was slick passing rather than poor defending that exposed the visitors' back four.
Silva drove down the left before feeding Tevez inside, and the Argentine in turn shifted possession to Dzeko on the edge of the box. The £27m signing stepped inside before curling home another superb strike - this time with his left foot.
Aris were offering little to no threat of their own and that encouraged City to push for a third.
Balotelli stung the palms of Michalis Sifakis with a thumping free-kick, Tevez saw a drive squirm narrowly wide and Pablo Zabaleta - on for the injured Vincent Kompany - also drilled a shot off target.
City were working hard to extend their lead and they should have done exactly that shortly before half-time, only for Dzeko to hesitate when one-on-one with Sifakis after being put clear by Silva.
Aris coach Giannis Michalitsios introduced Kostas Mendrinos for Saisuke Sakata at the break - replacing an attacker with a more defensively-minded midfielder - and the move seemed to pay off.
City were not able to enjoy the same freedom in the final third and, safe in the knowledge of their advantage, they started to sit back.
Their more conservative approach invited the Greeks forward but Michalitsios's team could find no way through City's disciplined and well-organised rearguard.

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