City Ease Through Group Stage
Cold and Blustery Eastlands
Manchester City guaranteed Europa League Group Stage qualification with a crushing 3-0 victory over Group A opposition Red Bull Salzburg.
Two goals from the ever-entertaining Mario Balotelli and a perfect solo goal from Adam Johnson demonstrated City`s control on a cold, frosty Manchester evening.
The City faithful who braved the blustery and treacherous conditions were treated to an entertaining and attacking game which could have easily provided more than the three goals we were treated with.
Constant flurries of City`s potent attacking play - despite eight changes from the draw at Stoke - caused the Salzburg defence uncontrollable problems and City`s profligacy was the only concern.
Balotelli lead the line with dominance and power and when Zabaleta crossed into the visitor`s box, one delicately guided leg from the Italian forward illustrated his destructive technique and ensured his left foot volley found the net.
City continued to control proceedings and dominate their weaker opponents, but failed to make their openings count. Balotelli, Shaun Wright-Phillips and James Milner- the heart of City`s attacks - all had chances thwarted.
When City`s second goal arrived it was again courtesy of the charismatic Balotelli. His power and speed were proving difficult to manage and after Patrick Vieira`s shot-come-cross was deflected into his path, he comfortably slotted home.
Rewarded with a start after seemingly disappearing into the abyss, Wright-Phillips tormented his opposition and delighted the home side with his speed, drive and energy.
Wright-Phillips was constantly switching wings with Johnson causing mass confusion amongst the defensive ranks.
However, when Wright-Phillips operated on his more-favoured right hand side he was excellent. This tactical switch also allowed Johnson to switch to the left where he netted an inspirational solo goal.
After collecting the ball on the touch-line the skilful winger cleverly skipped past two challenges with ease before moving the ball onto his right foot where he curled home.
The chances continued to come in quick succession, but three goals were enough to earn City a safe passage to the last 32.