Edin Dzeko answered Roberto Mancini’s challenge with two goals as City cruised into the last sixteen of the Europa League.
With the tie poised at 0-0 from the first leg, City had to be wary of the threat from Aris, who only needed on e goal to set the City nerves off. But Mancini decided on all out attack and started with three strikers, Mario Balotelli and Carlos Tevez playing alongside the Bosnian hitman, a clear sign that the City boss sees the competition as one they can win.
And with David Silva providing another attacking option, Aris didn’t really stand any chance against the blues, who threatened to run riot in the opening fifteen minutes.
For it was Dzeko calmed any nerves and fired the blues into a seventh minute lead. Nikos Lazaridis completely messed up Aleksander Kolarov’s through ball and Dzeko couldn’t believe his luck when he found himself through on goal and rifled home with his right foot to give City the lead.
It was Dzeko’s third goal since arriving at Eastlands and he soon made it four when he doubled City’s lead five minutes later. Silva’s ball into the middle of the park was forwarded by Tevez to the Bosnian on the edge of the area. Dzeko turned the defender before curling a superb left foot finish into the corner of the goal.
Just twelve minutes in and Dzeko was just a header away from the perfect hat-trick as the blues tried to press home their superiority, but the visitors began defending in numbers. But that didn’t stop Balotelli firing a shot that was well saved by the visiting keeper, while Tevex fizzed a shot just wide of the post.
The blues then lost Vincent Kompany through injury and his replacement, Pablo Zabaleta, also fired just wide as City sought a third. And it should have arrived in the final minute of the half when Dzeko had a golden chance to complete his hat-trick.
Silva played the striker clear and Dzeko rounded the keeper but just failed to get his shot away early enough, giving the keeper chance to get a hand to the ball that allowed the defender to clear. That was the final chance of a half that City dominated and with three quarters of the tie gone, City were looking good value for a place in the last sixteen.
Aris put up more of a fight in the second half but still never really threatened Joe Hart in the City goal and the blues threatened to knock the Greeks out of sight. Mario Balotelli’s brilliant shot was a lick of paint away from making it three in the 65th minute as his shot bounced off the post and Aris cleared.
But ten minutes later, Yaya Toure wrapped the tie up and booked a meeting with Dynamo Kiev. A Kolarov corner was not cleared by Aris and the ball fell kindly to Yaya, who’s powerful shot took a slight deflection before nestling into the back of the net.
Mancini replaced Tevez and Silva with Patrick Vieira and Shaun Wright-Phillips, but by this time, City were more than comfortably through.
City now face Russian side Dynamo, who hammered Besiktas 8-1 on aggregate, for a place in the quarter final.
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