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Man City eases past Blackburn to tie league record
- Balotelli banned for social media post
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- Chelsea cruise into League Cup semis
- World Cup winner Henry retires
- Herrera denies match-fixing in Spain
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MANCHESTER, England (AP) Manchester City extended its lead at the top of the Premier League to a provisional five points, beating Blackburn 3-0 with an 18th consecutive league victory at home.
Mario Balotelli opened the scoring with half an hour gone at the Etihad Stadium and Sergio Aguero added City's second shortly after halftime. Edin Dzeko headed a third in the 81st minute.
The win equals Newcastle's Premier League record of winning its first 13 home league games this season and Roberto Mancini's team has not dropped any points in front of their own fans in 12 months.
Mancini's side is now five points ahead of city rivals United, who play at Norwich on Sunday.
Balotelli took just a minute to threaten Blackburn when he collected Adam Johnson's pass and had a thumping shot pushed away by Blackburn goalkeeper Paul Robinson.
A couple of minutes later Blackburn had its only real effort of the opening period, when Morten Gamst Pedersen's free kick fell for Grant Hanley and the defender's shot was deflected wide of goal.
Johnson was causing plenty of problems down the City right and after collecting Sergio Aguero's pass his powerful effort was pushed away by Robinson.
Balotelli had a free kick blocked by Robinson but put City ahead in the 30th.
Yaya Toure started a quick break and Aleksander Kolarov clipped over a cross from the left that was touched in from close range by Balotelli.
The Italian striker, who unveiled a "Why always me?" T-shirt after scoring in the 6-1 win at Manchester United in October, lifted his shirt to reveal a "Raffaella ti amo" slogan, presumably directed at his girlfriend Raffaella Fico.
Robinson was worked once again when he pulled off a flying save from Vincent Kompany's flick before Aguero passed up two more opportunities.
Johnson had a low effort deflected wide but City doubled its advantage from the corner that followed.
Silva sent the ball over from the right and Robinson pushed the ball straight up in the air, allowing Aguero to guide a shot through a crowd of bodies into the back of the net.
Blackburn continued to offer no threat going forward and even when it managed a rare attack, Junior Hoilett's shot was blocked by his team mate Yakubu.
Just when City looked to have settled for its two-goal lead, substitute Dzeko powered in a header from another excellent cross from Kolarov.
Updated February 25, 2012