Brum brushed aside by clinical Blues

A potentially tricky fixture against a resolute Birmingham side this afternoon resulted in an emphatic 5-1 home win as City made it eleven goals in two games to cement their place as favourites for the all important fourth Champions League place. Strikers Carlos Tevez and Emmanuel Adebayor each grabbed a brace. Forty-one for the season now for the £50m pairing. Nedum Onuoha was also on the scoresheet.

The only surprise in the City line-up was the inclusion of midfield workhorse Nigel de Jong. Having amassed nine yellow cards so far this season it was expected he would be rested, but an injury to Pat Vieira in the warm-up forced Mancini's hand. Javier Garrido replaced Sylvinho at left-back, the veteran Brazilian injuring a calf at Burnley last week.

Alex McLeish made just the one change from the side which earned a point against Liverpool - Joe Hart unable to play due to the terms of his loan agreement. Former Fulham and Northern Ireland stopper Maik Taylor replaced him. Otherwise it was the back four that's served them so well this year; Carr, Ridgewell, Dann & Johnson. James McFadden played off top scorer Jerome, with Fahey and Gardner wide in midfield.

There was never really a point during proceedings that Birmingham looked threatening, though Cameron Jerome taking advantage of some Kolo Toure dithering early on should have resulted in the first chance. Nige de Jong typically smashed a shot miles wide as we began to put our foot down, but it was pretty tentative - Tevez and Bellamy both unable to find their range after good moves involving Emmanuel Adebayor.

It was Adebayor who had the better of opening chances, Johnson's cross found Tevez whose lay-off to de Jong was headed on by Barry, Ade pulling wide but not hitting the target. A Garrido shot was then pulled down brilliantly by the big Togolese forward but Johnson timed his saving challenge well.

The deadlock was broken from the penalty spot, Tevez keeping up his 100% record. The decision had gone our way after Johnson cut in past two men on the right flank and found Ade who tried to wriggle between the centre-halves to get his shot away and was nudged by Dann. It was a naive challenge but i'm not completely convinced it warranted a penalty, but Carlito sent Taylor the wrong way and that was that.

Two minutes later we extended our lead. Another goal from a corner, something we seem surprisingly adept at of late, Johnson from the left, Onuoha's diving header, Tevez getting the touch virtually on the line. All dead and buried it seemed, but not so. Toure gave McFadden too much space down our right and his dinked cross was easily headed home by Jerome.

To round off a madcap few minutes we put the game to bed before the interval. Less than a minute had elapsed before Gareth Barry picked up possession on the halfway line and looped a staggering pass over the Brum full-back to Bellamy. The striker-cum-winger only had to cut in and square to Adebayor who tapped into the half-vacant goal.

The second half continued as the first had ended, with us threatening and Birmingham looking constantly vulnerable. Barry's quick free-kick was volleyed just wide by Ade, and Onuoha almost grabbed a fourth, Bowyer doing his best to prevent him from dispatching the header from close range. Johnson broke from the left-back position and the splitting runs of Adebayor and Barry left us two-on-one, opting for the latter Barry failed to control.

After that there was a short lull as Birmingham pressured. We began to look rushed in possession and were pressed deep inside our own half. Keith Fahey should have pulled one back, shutting his eyes with the goal at his mercy after Given had flapped at a deep Gardner cross. On two or three occasions we allowed them far too much space down our left but luckily they couldn't make anything of it.

On the hour Tevez wriggled through and only had one defender in between him and yet another treble. Manu screamed for the ball to be played inside but Carlos went on his own, eventually stumbling into Johnson's challenge. Lee Bowyer, who had an awful afternoon, then gifted us a free-kick around five yards outside of their box, Tevez curling towards Taylor's top corner but the German-born goalie saving well.

Chances continued to come - Barry sprayed another ball over the opposition defence, Bellamy back-heeling into Johnson's path and the signing from Boro seeing his rising shot just go the wrong side of the bar. Ade again found himself through, squaring for his strike partner but El Apache having another attempt blocked.

Stand-in right-back Onuoha put any lingering hopes of a Brum rally to bed with fifteen left on the clock. The defender roamed into midfield and tried to find Adebayor. A fortunate bounce saw the ball return to him and he drove right through the centre of their defence coolly finishing with his unfavoured left peg for what he must have then thought was his second of the afternoon.

Shaun Wright-Phillips, Gregg Cunningham and Roque Santa Cruz were all introduced late on, none surprisingly for de Jong who managed to evade the tenth booking that would have meant he missed two games. As time wore down Ade turned the final defender, a trick he's demonstrated a few times of late, clear through on goal he took a touch and finished confidently. A Seb Larsson smash sailing just high of Given's goal late on being the only remaining scare.

As with the result at a drenched Turf Moor last week, today was a splendid demonstration of us at our scintillating best. Birmingham are no mugs, they're rarely beaten handsomely, but we dismantled them in third gear and there was very little fault to find at all. Ade led the line well and when he plays as he's starting to he looks every inch the £25m forward. The other attacking players continue to dazzle, too.

The goal conceded and the occasional lapses in concentration from Javi Garrido aside there wasn't too much to moan about at the other end either, though McLeish's men were short of ideas. Onuoha may have been given the Man of the Match award, but i personally thought Gareth Barry shone brightest. His tireless performance reminded us of the box-to-box, game-changing midfielder of his Villa days, and he appears to be shaking off his patchy form at just the right time.

Today was a game we had to win, and we did it quite easily. The mood seems positive at the moment, and results elsewhere, either in terms of Liverpool dropping more points or Spurs' getting a confidence knock ahead of three tough games, exiting the FA Cup at Wembley, went our way. Next up is a Derby which will be huge for both sides. Play like today and we should have enough to get the job done.

Given, Onuoha, Garrido, Toure, Kompany, de Jong, A.Johnson (Cunningham '89), Barry, Tevez (Santa Cruz '87), Adebayor, Bellamy (Wright-Phillips '81)

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