MANCHESTER, January 12 – Carlos Tevez scored his first Manchester City hat-trick as they went fourth in the English Premier League table with a 4-1 win over Blackburn Rovers at Eastlands here on Monday.
Victory meant City maintained their perfect record under Italian manager Roberto Mancini with their fourth straight success, even if they did concede their first goal under the former Inter Milan boss when Morten Gamst Pedersen scored for Rovers to make it 3-1.
But the match belonged to Argentina’s Tevez who was in brilliant form as he made it 11 goals in his last nine games.
The former Manchester United striker opened the scoring in the seventh minute and, after Micah Richards’s superb second, Tevez struck two expert curling shots, the second in stoppage time, to seal City’s win.
City are now just seven points behind leaders Chelsea and the big-spenders, backed by their billionaire Abu Dhabi-based owner Sheikh Mansour, could yet have a big influence on the destiny of this season’s title.
By contrast, defeat left Rovers just three points above the relegation zone with all the teams below them having games in hand.
Mancini, while pleased with the victory, was "angry" at seeing City concede a sloppy goal which came from a poor first touch by Vincent Kompany after goalkeeper Shay Given cleared a back-pass.
"It was a good night for us. The players played very well in this match," Mancini told ESPN.
"Carlos Tevez played very, very well. All the team concentrated for 90 minutes but I’m angry because we conceded a goal. Our gift. I think it’s most important we stay focussed all the time.
"We must continue to play well and not concede one goal."
Meanwhile, Mancini tried to keep City’s victory in perspective by insisting: "We don’t watch the table. We watch the table (in) two months.
"Now it is not important.
"There are 17 games to the end. Now it’s important that we continue this way, we continue to play well and we continue to improve."
As new City signing Patrick Vieira, the former Arsenal midfielder who signed from Serie A champions Inter Milan last week, watched on from the stands, the hosts wasted little time in taking the lead.
Rovers and England keeper Paul Robinson’s poor punch from Martin Petrov’s corner fell to City striker Benjani Mwaruwari and the Zimbabwean’s mishit shot went into the net off Tevez’s thigh.
Rovers looked as if they might go in at half-time just a goal behind until, six minutes before the break, Richards started and finished a fine move with Benjani again involved in the build-up.
Richards ran some 50 yards from the heart of City’s defence, beating several retreating Rovers players, before passing to Benjani inside the box.
Benjani’s shot hit the post but Richards, who’d continued his run, slotted home the rebound.
Rovers manager Sam Allardyce sent on strikers David Hoilett and Nikola Kalinic at half-time but it was City who scored next, just four minutes into the second-half.
Tevez started the move from inside the City half before finding Benjani, a rejuvenated figure under Mancini, who pulled the ball back to his onrushing fellow striker, who unleashed a magnificent 20-yard curling shot past Robinson.
Tevez might have had a hat-trick in the 57th minute but his header from eight yards out was narrowly off-target.
Rovers pulled a goal back 19 minutes from time when Pedersen made the most of Kompany’s mistake to score from 16 yards.
City fans then had to endure a few nervous moments but, importantly, their defence held firm for the remainder of the match and then, in the first minute of injury time, Tevez wrapped things up with a sublime finish.