Manchester City might have been annoyed by Blackburn Rovers at Ewood Park, but they had no problem dispatching their Championship opponents in their FA Cup 3rd Round replay. Although the visitors battled throughout the first half, they simply didn't have the quality to keep City (in particular, Alvaro Negredo) out for very long, eventually falling 5-0 as the hosts advanced easily.
The only surprise of the first half was how long it took City to open the scoring. Indeed, Blackburn looked downright comfortable for much of the opening spell, holding their hosts at arms length (partially thanks to some appalling finishing on the part of Edin Dzeko) fairly easily. Before Negredo's first goal, we had all of two shots on target, and neither of them were particularly threatening.
That changed in first half injury time. There had already been two warnings -- crosses from Jesus Navas and James Milner had flashed in front of Paul Robinson's goal without anyone being able to apply the finishing touch -- before Negredo struck, attacking Fernandinho's right-sided delivery at the far post and crashing his header into the back of the net.
The visitors barely had time to kick off before the half time whistle sounded; at which point they had to replace Robinson with Simon Eastwood. The substitute's introduction to the match was rather unfortunate -- within two minutes of City kicking off, Negredo was racing onto a through ball from Aleksandar Kolarov, and the striker killed off the match by dinking past Eastwood to make it 2-0.
Blackburn had their chances to get back into the match, but even when they looked on the verge of scoring it always felt as though they were an injured mouse being made sport of by a particularly cruel cat. Joshua King was denied by Costel Pantilimon after escaping the attentions of Joleon Lescott; Dzeko slammed home a pass from Navas by means of chastisement.
Then Manuel Pellegrini got really mean. Sergio Aguero was introduced with 18 minutes to go. Fresh off recovering from a hamstring injury, the Argentinian's first contribution was spectacular. He received a pass from Dzeko in the box, managed to work space to shoot despite a pair of red shirts doing their best to flatten him, and slid a cool shot past Eastwood for City's fourth.
Dzeko would add further gloss to the scoreline in the 79th minute, but the match was long since over. City will advance to face Watford in the fourth round, and remain on course to win the quadruple. Not a bad night's work.
Manchester City starting lineup (4-4-2): Costel Pantilimon; Gael Clichy, Matija Nastasic, Joleon Lescott, Micah Richards 77'); James Milner, Javi Garcia, Fernandino (Aleksander Kolarov 45'), Jesus Navas; Alvaro Negredo, Edin Dzeko.
Goals: Negredo 45' 47', Dzeko 67', Aguero 73'.
Blackburn Rovers starting lineup (4-5-1): Paul Robinson ; Tony Spurr, Grant Hanley, Matthew Kilgallon, Adam Henley; Lee Williamson, Tom Cairney, Jason Lowe, Chris Taylor, Ben Marshall; DJ Campbell (Joshua King 59').