Tevez scored his 10th Premier League goal in seven games for City
By Pranav Soneji
A Carlos Tevez hat-trick launched Manchester City into fourth place in the Premier League following a commanding victory over Blackburn.
Tevez put City in front from close range in the seventh minute before Micah Richards doubled the lead after a powerful 50-yard surge on 39 minutes.
Tevez extended the lead after the break with a stunning 20-yard finish.
Blackburn pulled a goal back through Morten Gamst Pedersen before Tevez added his third with a superb finish.
The Argentine continued his rich vein of goal-scoring form with his 10th league goal in just seven matches as City leap-frogged fellow top-four contenders Tottenham to move within four points of third-placed Arsenal.
Despite some lackadaisical defending in the final 20 minutes as City conceded their first goal under Roberto Mancini's regime, the Italian will take plenty of satisfaction from yet another impressive performance from Tevez.
And with extra steel to add in midfield with the addition of Patrick Vieira, watching from the stands because of a calf injury, 2010 could provide yet another twist of an already tumultuous league campaign.
Opposite number Sam Allardyce will not share Mancini's optimism, however, after watching his side slip further towards the wrong end of the Premier League with another defeat.
The Rovers boss named a five-man midfield in an attempt to stymie City's pace and invention - but his pre-match plans were left in tatters after just seven minutes.
Paul Robinson's injudicious punch attempting to clear Martin Petrov's corner landed at the feet of Benjani, making his first league appearance of the season, and whose mishit shot found the back of the net via Tevez's thigh.
Petrov carved open Rovers' paper-thin defence minutes later but, with Tevez racing into the box without a marker in sight, the Bulgarian's misjudged right-footed cross was easily cleared.
But despite their dominance in possession and territory, City's superiority could not break down their opponents's stubborn back four.
That was until a robust 50-yard run from the heart of defence by Richards, sauntering past back-pedalling Blackburn defenders before feeding Benjani inside the box.
The Zimbabwean's shot rebounded back off the post but into the path of the on-rushing Richards, who side-footed the ball into the net to finish a move he began deep inside his own half.
Allardyce attempted to inject invention and renewed enthusiasm into his sterile team by introducing strikers David Hoilett and Nikola Kalinic after the interval.
But instead, City extended their lead just four minutes later when Tevez began a move from inside his own half, feeding the ball out for Benjani before sprinting towards the Blackburn box to curl a wonderful 20-yard strike past Robinson.
Tevez should have bagged a hat-trick in the 57th minute, but his eight-yard header from Pablo Zabaleta's cross cleared Robinson's left-hand post.
The almost redundant Shay Given made his first meaningful save of the match on the hour when he easily saved Brett Emerton's 12-yard strike.
But Rovers managed to pull a goal back in the 71st minute when Pedersen capitalised on Kompany's poor first touch following a back pass to Given to curl a fine left-footed shot past Given from 16 yards.
But despite a few nervy moments in defence, City continued to push forward in search for a fourth goal.
Substitute Robinho, introduced for Craig Bellamy, had a 79th-minute goal ruled out for offside but Tevez sealed a deserved hat-trick with an inch-perfect finish from the edge of the box in injury time.
Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini: "Carlos Tevez played very, very well. All the team concentrated for 90 minutes but I'm angry because we conceded a goal. Our gift. I think it's most important we stay concentrated for all the time.
"For me we were playing very, very well. We must continue to play well and not concede one goal.
"We don't watch the table. We watch the table (in) two months. Now it is not important. There are 17 games to the end. Now it's important that we continue this way, we continue to play well and we continue to improve."
Blackburn boss Sam Allardyce: "I have no complaints that Manchester City have beaten us, but we could have defended properly to stop some of those goals.
"Instead of keeping the game tight in the second half, within four minutes they scored the third and it was game over.
"These players have to consistently have to play better. They are good enough but they have to keep believing and get that confidence back and produce more consistent performances away from home."
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