Silva scores as City cruise in Salzburg
David Silva and Jo performed an unlikely double act as Manchester City got their UEFA Europa League campaign off to a flying start.
Silva has endured a stop-start first few weeks since his arrival from Valencia and has even been linked with a swift move back to Spain. But the FIFA World Cup™ star provided City with their early lead before Jo, who staggeringly was the longest-serving outfield player in the City starting line-up despite spending the past 18 months away on loan, drilled home the second from an acute angle.
It was a fully merited triumph for a team that at times showed the form that brought them that encouraging early-season triumph over Liverpool, and gave Roberto Mancini an indication that after recent Premier League setbacks against Sunderland and Blackburn, his highly expensive team are moving in the right direction again.
When Silva's £24million capture was announced right in the middle of the FIFA World Cup, it created a ripple of excitement to match any at City throughout another breathless summer. Silva had been attracting admiring glances across Europe for quite a while but was a man with something to prove against Salzburg.
Deep down, he must have retained plenty of confidence though. The assured manner with which he took the eighth-minute opportunity presented to him by Jo did not appear that of a man wracked by self-doubt. By half-time, Silva would be reflecting he should have had a second too.
Gareth Barry's fine pass to Carlos Tevez created that opportunity, the South American's square ball inviting Silva to shoot, only for Gerhard Tremmel to make a fine save after the 24-year-old had checked back onto his left foot.
That Wayne Bridge and Jo played a part in City's opener would have given both men cause for satisfaction. Bridge's first appearance of the season has been delayed because of an ankle operation and could not have been better timed considering Joleon Lescott is expected to be out for a fortnight with a groin strain.
For Jo it was a reminder that he still exists. It was the Brazilian's first start since December 2008, six months after his arrival from CSKA Moscow in a £17million deal which seemed certain to be consigned to the ill-fated variety. Expected to move on this summer after loan spells with Everton and Galatasaray, the 23-year-old stuck around and was rewarded with a place in both Mancini's Premier League and European squads.
Then, as injuries claimed Emmanuel Adebayor and Mario Balotelli, Jo was suddenly shunted to the forefront of Mancini's plans. It must be said, he did not look particularly threatening, even though he stuck out a leg to tee up Silva from Bridge's low cross.
But the City boss stuck with him and when Tevez's shot was parried by Gerhard Tremmel, Jo kept his composure to tuck home from an acute angle. The goal came at a time when a watchable game had hit a flat spot, Salzburg hitting a brick wall in their attempts to come any closer than the free-kick Nikola Pokrivac flashed wide right after the break.
Mancini took it as the sign to start making changes, with Dedryck Boyata, Patrick Vieira and Shaun Wright-Phillips all given a run out. It was just what Mancini would have wanted and leaves City fans in optimistic mood ahead of their second European adventure, the visit of Italian giants Juventus to Eastlands in a fortnight.