Manchester City 3-0 Aris Salonika: Report
Edin Dzeko scored twice in the opening 12 minutes as Manchester City completed a routine 3-0 win over Aris at Eastlands to book a Europa League last-16 clash with Dynamo Kiev.
After unleashing his own battery of strikers on a limited Greek outfit, Blues boss Roberto Mancini now faces a great of the past in Andriy Shevchenko.
It will not be easy judging by the way Dynamo so comfortably crushed Besiktas but with his side beginning another winning run, Mancini will be hopeful of further progress, even if an FA Cup draw with Aston Villa next Wednesday would force the Blues to play twice in three days ahead of the first leg in the Ukraine on March 10.
Certainly, Dzeko can approach the tie in confident mood after claiming his first brace since a #27million arrival from Wolfsburg last month.
The giant Bosnian should have been heading home with the match ball after failing to take a glorious opportunity provided by David Silva.
A third did eventually come though, for Yaya Toure, whose 25-yard effort took a fairly sizeable deflection.
Given he scored in the final minute against Notts County on Sunday, Dzeko might argue he completed a 13-minute hat-trick given the explosive start he made here.
And to think, leading up to the weekend FA Cup win, the Bosnian's form had been scrutinised after registering a single goal since his big-money arrival from Wolfsburg last month.
Such judgements were incredibly harsh given the difficulty most players experience when they move during the January transfer window, and so Dzeko has proved.
His opener did involve a large slice of good fortune.
Aleksandar Kolarov, who had already drifted two curling free-kicks narrowly over, did not appear to be trying anything inventive as he hoofed a long ball forward from inside his own half.
After defending so defiantly last week, Aris collapsed.
Nikolaos Lazaridis got himself in a tangle as he tried to control, succeeding only in turning the ball into Dzeko's path as he fell.
The finish was excellent, the ball nestling in the far corner, which Dzeko found with a precise low shot that gave Michail Sifakis no chance.
Dzeko's second was equally eye-catching from the striker's point of view.
Collecting Carlos Tevez's short pass, Dzeko cut inside Michel, then went for the same corner, only this time with his left foot, with exactly the same result.
He really should have had an authentic hat-trick too.
Sent clear by Silva's brilliant through ball in the final minutes of the half, Dzeko galloped on.
But in trying to round Sifakis, Dzeko got too close to the keeper, who stuck out a hand to block the ball.
The City man's momentum was stopped and before he could regain it, the Aris defence had closed ranks.
It was a first half that justified Roberto Mancini's bold decision to play his big-name strikers, even if Mario Balotelli was a peripheral figure.
With Silva on the field as well, the Blues were committed to attack, although predictably, it was in defence where the price was paid.
As he trudged off, Vincent Kompany was clearly troubled by his hip.
The impressive Belgian has been such a key figure in the Blues' backline this term and it would be a major setback for Mancini if Kompany was forced to miss a few games after taking a seemingly innocuous blow.
Tellingly, Mancini opted to bring on Pablo Zabaleta and move Jerome Boateng into central defence rather than introducing Kolo Toure as a direct replacement.
Zabaleta was his usual industrious self. And it was the Argentinian who combined with Tevez to set up Balotelli midway through the second half.
The youngster went for goal with a well-struck first-time effort that came crashing back off the base of a post.
It was Toure who bagged the third after Kolarov's corner had been cleared into his path.
The Ivorian's shot was powerful enough but it probably would not have gone in without the deflection that took it away from Sifakis.
- Manchester City 3-0 Aris Salonika: As it happened
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