Emmanuel Adebayor celebrates after scoring Manchester City's fifth goal
By Chris Bevan
Carlos Tevez and Emmanuel Adebayor both scored twice as Manchester City thumped Birmingham to strengthen their hold on fourth place in the Premier League.
Tevez fired the home side ahead from the spot after Adebayor was fouled and a flurry of goals swiftly followed.
Tevez turned in Nedum Onuoha's header then, after Cameron Jerome's nodded reply, Adebayor finished a neat move.
After the break, Onuoha's fine solo effort made it 4-1 and Adebayor ran clear late on to complete the rout.
Points more important than goals - Mancini
With Liverpool toiling to a 0-0 draw against Fulham earlier in the day and Tottenham preoccupied with their FA Cup semi-final against Portsmouth, the home side knew a win would open up a potentially decisive gap on their rivals for the final Champions League place, with some difficult fixtures lying in wait.
In the end, Manchester City collected the points easily enough but they certainly did not have things all their own way. Birmingham did not press forward too often in the opening half-hour but they were hardly under the cosh either.
Adebayor fired wide when he latched on to Gareth Barry's header inside the area but, that chance aside, the home side were restricted to long-range efforts that did not trouble Maik Taylor.
And Mancini's men seemed short of ideas until they were given the chance to open the scoring from the spot after referee Phil Dowd harshly adjudged Scott Dann to have bundled over Adebayor in the box.
Tevez stepped up to smash home his 19th goal in 18 league games and begin an extraordinary six-minute spell.
The Argentine quickly added his second goal when he got the last touch on Onuoha's header from Adam Johnson's deep corner.
Jerome brought Birmingham back into the game when he found space to nod home James McFadden's cross at the back post but some poor defending meant Manchester City were soon two goals to the good again.
A neat move down the left ended with Craig Bellamy escaping Stephen Carr and, with Taylor exposed, he crossed for Adebayor to tap into an unguarded net.
Alex McLeish's side were still not out of it, however, and for long spells of the second half they threatened a second goal that might have changed the complexion of the match yet again, with Keith Fahey twice going close.
McLeish looks forward after 5-1 'blip'
First Fahey headed wide when Shay Given missed Craig Gardner's cross and the Dublin-born midfielder also saw his low shot kept out by the Manchester City keeper.
But any chance of a wobble by Manchester City was ended when Onuoha was allowed to stride unchallenged into the area and roll the ball into the bottom corner of the net.
Birmingham continued to press forward but only succeeded in conceding a fifth goal, which came when Adebayor sprinted on to a long clearance and slotted past Taylor as City notched up a third win in a row.
The win puts Manchester City four points clear of fifth-placed Tottenham, who have a game in hand, but there are bigger tests to come for Mancini's side before the end of the season, starting with next weekend's derby with neighbours Manchester United.
Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini: "We have some difficult games ahead.
"We are confident at the moment but it is more important to win games than it is to score five or six goals.
"Against Manchester United next week, if it is possible to win 1-0 then for me that would be OK.
"If we have 1-0 victories in the next five games that will be good for us. Of course we have respect for United but we want to win this game as it is an important one for us.
"First of all though, we have to recover from this game as we have used up a lot of energy."
Birmingham manager Alex McLeish: "It was a strange game, but when top clubs click they can do that to you.
"We defended badly in some situations, especially the goals in the second half.
"But it was not a horrid performance and we have the capacity to bounce back. We have shown that many times.
"I will call it a blip and challenge the players to win the next game against Hull."
78:06 Sebastian Larsson takes the outswinging corner, clearance made by Nigel De Jong.
77:13 Christian Benitez fouled by Gareth Barry, the ref awards a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Craig Gardner.
76:17 Kevin Phillips takes a shot. Save made by Shay Given.
73:28 GOAL - Nedum Onuoha:Man City 4 - 1 Birmingham Nedum Onuoha scores a goal from just inside the penalty area to the bottom right corner of the goal. Man City 4-1 Birmingham.
72:08 Vincent Kompany gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Christian Benitez. James McFadden crosses the ball in from
the free kick, comfortable save by Shay Given.
71:08 Substitution Christian Benitez joins the action as a substitute, replacing Cameron Jerome.
71:08 Carlos Tevez takes a shot. Save by Maik Taylor. Craig Bellamy has an effort at goal from deep inside the area missing to the
left of the target.
67:49 Adam Johnson challenges Liam Ridgewell unfairly and gives away a free kick. Free kick taken by Liam Ridgewell.
65:31 Substitution Kevin Phillips is brought on as a substitute for Keith Fahey.
65:31 Shot from deep inside the area by Adam Johnson clears the bar.
64:02 Adam Johnson takes the outswinging corner, Cameron Jerome makes a clearance. Corner taken by Adam Johnson from the left by-line
played to the near post.
62:55 Foul by Lee Bowyer on Nigel De Jong, free kick awarded. Strike on goal comes in from Carlos Tevez from the free kick, Maik
Taylor makes a save.
61:11 Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Barry Ferguson by Emmanuel Adebayor. Free kick taken by Barry Ferguson.
60:40 Keith Fahey takes a shot. Save made by Shay Given.
58:12 Emmanuel Adebayor concedes a free kick for a foul on Roger Johnson. Craig Gardner restarts play with the free kick.
56:25 Substitution Stephen Carr goes off and Sebastian Larsson comes on.
56:25 Header by Keith Fahey from deep inside the penalty area misses to the left of the goal.
54:11 Craig Bellamy takes a outswinging corner to the near post.
52:27 Inswinging corner taken by Keith Fahey from the left by-line, clearance by Kolo Toure.
51:35 Direct free kick taken by Nedum Onuoha.
51:35 Booking Keith Fahey booked for unsporting behaviour.
51:17 Keith Fahey gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Adam Johnson.
50:08 Foul by Emmanuel Adebayor on Lee Bowyer, free kick awarded. Liam Ridgewell restarts play with the free kick.
49:25 Close range headed effort by Nedum Onuoha clears the crossbar.
48:52 Javier Garrido fouled by Craig Gardner, the ref awards a free kick. Craig Bellamy takes the direct free kick.
46:29 Emmanuel Adebayor fouled by Lee Bowyer, the ref awards a free kick. The ball is crossed by Adam Johnson, Shot by Emmanuel
Adebayor from deep inside the penalty area misses to the right of the target.
45:53 The referee blows for offside. Indirect free kick taken by Shay Given.
45:01 The match restarts for the second half.
45:00+2:45 The referee blows for half time.
45:00+2:26 Craig Bellamy takes a shot. Save by Maik Taylor.
45:00+1:40 Gareth Barry takes the direct free kick.
45:00+1:40 Booking Cameron Jerome is given a yellow card.
45:00+1:31 Foul by Cameron Jerome on Craig Bellamy, free kick awarded.
45:00+0:48 Carlos Tevez is penalised for handball and concedes a free kick. Barry Ferguson takes the direct free kick.
42:30 Assist on the goal came from Craig Bellamy.
42:30 GOAL - Emmanuel Adebayor:Man City 3 - 1 Birmingham Emmanuel Adebayor finds the net with a goal from close range low into the middle of the goal. Man City 3-1 Birmingham.
41:16 James McFadden provided the assist for the goal.
41:16 GOAL - Cameron Jerome:Man City 2 - 1 Birmingham Cameron Jerome finds the back of the net with a headed goal from close range. Man City 2-1 Birmingham.
41:14 A cross is delivered by James McFadden,
Correction - 39:13 Assist on the goal came from Nedum Onuoha.
Correction - 39:13 GOAL - Carlos Tevez:Man City 2 - 0 Birmingham A goal is scored by Carlos Tevez from inside the six-yard box to the top right corner of the goal. Man City 2-0 Birmingham.
39:13 Assist by Adam Johnson.
39:13 GOAL - Nedum Onuoha:Man City 2 - 0 Birmingham Nedum Onuoha finds the back of the net with a headed goal from inside the area. Man City 2-0 Birmingham.
Correction - 39:03 Corner taken left-footed by Adam Johnson from the left by-line,
39:03 Outswinging corner taken by Adam Johnson,
37:18 Assist by Emmanuel Adebayor.
37:18 GOAL - Carlos Tevez:Man City 1 - 0 Birmingham Placed penalty scored by Carlos Tevez. Man City 1-0 Birmingham.
37:01 Booking Roger Johnson shown a yellow card.
36:16 Penalty awarded for a foul by Scott Dann on Emmanuel Adebayor.
34:58 The official flags Adam Johnson offside. Maik Taylor restarts play with the free kick.
32:48 Emmanuel Adebayor takes a shot. Blocked by Keith Fahey. Outswinging corner taken from the right by-line by Craig Bellamy,
Liam Ridgewell manages to make a clearance.
31:43 Outswinging corner taken right-footed by Craig Bellamy from the right by-line to the near post.
29:07 Adam Johnson takes a outswinging corner from the left by-line played to the near post, clearance by Keith Fahey.
27:17 Unfair challenge on Barry Ferguson by Gareth Barry results in a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Maik Taylor.
26:38 Cameron Jerome concedes a free kick for a foul on Kolo Toure. Kolo Toure takes the direct free kick.
22:19 Nedum Onuoha fouled by Keith Fahey, the ref awards a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Adam Johnson.
20:41 Gareth Barry gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Stephen Carr. Roger Johnson restarts play with the free kick.
19:24 Corner taken short by James McFadden.
18:28 Unfair challenge on Lee Bowyer by Craig Bellamy results in a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Maik Taylor.
17:57 The assistant referee signals for offside against Craig Bellamy. Maik Taylor takes the indirect free kick.
16:17 Shot by Emmanuel Adebayor from deep inside the penalty area misses to the right of the goal.
13:51 Shot from just outside the area by Carlos Tevez misses to the right of the target.
13:24 Keith Fahey fouled by Emmanuel Adebayor, the ref awards a free kick. Keith Fahey takes the direct free kick.
9:27 Craig Bellamy has an effort at goal from long range that misses to the right of the target.
7:40 Effort from deep inside the area by Emmanuel Adebayor misses to the right of the goal.
Correction - 7:21 Effort on goal by Nigel De Jong from outside the penalty box goes harmlessly over the bar.
7:21 Effort from just outside the area by Patrick Vieira goes over the target.
4:18 Outswinging corner taken left-footed by Adam Johnson from the left by-line to the near post.
0:00 The match gets underway.
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