Thoughts on the Salzburg victory

salzburg

Roberto Mancini may have wanted more goals, but as far as complaints go it was a minor one.

It was an evening that would have cheered the Italian; a comfortable victory achieved despite resting key players, impressive (and important) performances from Balotelli, Milner and Johnson and above all, qualification with a game to spare following a defeat in Poland that had cast doubt over the sides progression to the knock-out stages.

In summoning the majority of the starting line-up from the sidelines, it meant that personnel wise the side had a far more attacking look to it. Johnson and Wright-Phillips out wide, Milner in his most comfortable (and dare say, effective) position as the most forward of two central midfielders and two central strikers in Jo and Balotelli.

City were helped of course by a largely unthreatening Salzburg side who were already out of the competition, but the side played with less restriction and far more licence and were rewarded by the number of chances that were created. Although the first-half only saw one converted - Balotelli's technique making a difficult finish appear noncholant - an early goal after the break was always likely to kill the game. So it proved.

Balotelli once again applied the finish to seal the game, and it a performance capped by Adam Johnson's solo virtuoso goal, beating several players after picking up the ball on the touchline and smartly slotting home.

It was a useful exercise all told. Both Boateng and Lescott got valuable along with Shay Given at the back, whilst Adam Johnson showed enough to suggest a start is warranted. Shaun Wright-Phillips impressed too, showing the pace and inclination to beat his man time and again. The end product was not always there, but he showed enough to prove his value; the difficulty of course being the numbers and quality who sit ahead of him at the moment.

Such was the second-half though that as the clock ticked down, the focus from those in the stands was towards the intriguingly named Brazilian and Salzburg substitute, Alan. Amusing of course, but the game by that time was probably in need of a diversion.

Focus now moves on to Turin, where - in facing Juventus who can no longer qualify - City will be aiming to finish as group leaders and avoid one of the sides dropping out of the Champions League in knock-out stages.

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