Dzeko justifies Mancini's faith
Edin Dzeko was a grateful beneficiary of the turmoil that swirled around Fernando Torres as the Chelsea striker struggled to adapt to life at Stamford Bridge.
As a harsh spotlight was trained on the Spaniard and his quest for a goal following his £50m move from Liverpool, Dzeko was able to lurk beneath the radar as he toiled away fruitlessly following his £27m move to Manchester City from Wolfsburg in January.
Torres, who had gone 732 minutes without a goal in Chelsea colours, emerged from the darkness and into the light with a strike against West Ham United on Saturday, turning attention towards Dzeko and his own efforts to hit the target in the Premier League.
If he was billed on arrival as the man whose goals would push City towards the Champions League, then he may just have lived up his label at Ewood Park.
Dzeko calmly slots home his first Premier League goal - photo: Reuters
It took Dzeko, who walked into Eastlands accompanied by a reputation as one of Europe's most feared marksmen, four months and 10 games to break his duck.
Like good comedy, however, the secret is in the timing - and City's fans filed out of Ewood Park smiling after his crucial intervention.
As for Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini, who has repeatedly stated his support for Dzeko, he will have taken extra satisfaction from the manner in which his faith was rewarded.
After Rovers were forced to dance to the tune of David Silva in the opening 20 minutes, the Spaniard rattling the woodwork and controlling everything like a master puppeteer, City began to struggle to impose themselves against Steve Kean's gallant Blackburn .
Sensing the growing prospect of an opportunity lost, Mancini called on Dzeko to replace Adam Johnson after 72 minutes.
And as with Torres on Saturday, Dzeko made a spectacular entrance, showing a sure touch and composure to take control of an attempted Phil Jones clearance and beat Blackburn keeper Paul Robinson within three minutes of coming on.
The Premier League table reflected the significance of the moment. City now have a four-point advantage over closest rivals Tottenham, who have yet to visit Eastlands.
This was not a sparkling City show but a demonstration of, as Mancini put it, "how to win the other way".
The Italian explained: "In the first half, we played a fantastic game. We should have scored two goals minimum. In the second half, the game changed, Blackburn played very strong and hard."
As for Dzeko, Mancini added: "I'm very happy for Edin because he deserves to score. He is a good player and a good man."
City won ugly, with Nigel de Jong outstanding, after their early flamboyance fizzled out but they have responded positively to that woeful 3-0 defeat by Liverpool a fortnight ago and are now favourites to reach the Champions League as reward for the vast Abu Dhabi investment in the club.
The promised land of the Champions League is in sight for Mancini: photo Getty
The smiling Dzeko looked like a large weight had been lifted from his shoulders as he strolled around the corridors of Ewood Park - and spoke like a man who believes his City career can now take flight.
"Today was very good," said the forward, who was watched by former England coach Steve McClaren, the man who rubber-stamped his move to City during his brief spell in the Bundesliga with Wolfsburg.
"I think it is a new beginning for me. I have confidence in myself but sometimes it is difficult. I am not the first one that didn't make the best of a move but I am happy now because I scored and helped my team.
"It's funny. I think Torres scored a lot of goals for Liverpool and changed his club and found it hard. I am happy for him because I know what the pressure is. But today I scored as well and I know that, in the future, there will be much better games for me."
Blackburn manager Kean is another man who knows what pressure is - and it grows with every game. He could take only small consolation from a display that showed plenty of character but lacked quality.
He was right to insist Blackburn were unlucky to be denied a penalty when City captain Vincent Kompany tangled with Jason Roberts in the first half and also complained that Mario Balotelli was standing in an offside position in front of goalkeeper Robinson when Dzeko scored the winner.
The worry, which also applied to fellow strugglers West Ham at Chelsea, is that, after playing badly and losing, Rovers have acquired the habit of playing well and losing - not a good one to form at this late stage and with survival at stake.
Kean was defiant but there is no escaping the growing sense around Ewood Park that Blackburn's Indian owners Venky's may have made a major misjudgement by thrusting the Scot into his first high-profile role after removing Sam Allardyce in December.
Allardyce's methods make him a divisive figure but he was working effectively and had restored stability at Ewood Park. Venky's may yet find they pay a heavy price for attempting to fix something that was not actually faulty.
A fight against relegation is tough enough for a manager with experience, doubly so for someone learning on the job - and these are tough times for Kean, with Blackburn currently in their worst run without a victory in 25 years, a sequence that stretched to 11 games following the defeat by City.
As for Mancini, he promised that City would reach the FA Cup final and the Champions League after the dismal showing at Anfield. Phase one is complete and Dzeko's release from his own personal torment took City closer to completing the second part of his manager's bold pledge.
One blot on a satisfying night for City were the chants from some of their followers about Manchester United and the Munich air disaster. They did great discredit to a fan base that is in large part exemplary, as they proved when honouring a minute's silence at Liverpool a fortnight ago.