Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini has challenged Edin Dzeko to raise his game and start scoring.
The former Wolfsburg striker was out of luck last night during the 0-0 away draw with Aris Salonika in the Europa League.
Dzeko almost opened the scoring in the first leg of the last-32 tie in the 16th minute when he got on the end of a driven cross from Aleksandar Kolarov, but saw his close-range shot gathered by Michalis Sifakis at the second attempt.
And the Bosnian again came close in the 64th minute following a cross from Barry. Dzeko got in a towering header but Sifakis somehow managed to tip it over the top of the bar.
Mancini said: “I expect more for Dzeko - he needs to improve. He is a good player.
“I think he has the same difficulty as (Fernando) Torres at Chelsea because when you arrive in January you don’t know your team-mates, it is not easy.
“He can change in every game. It is important that he improves very quickly. We should cross the ball more to him.”
While Dzeko came close to breaking the deadlock, leading scorer Carlos Tevez was quiet in front of a partisan home crowd.
But Mancini was not concerned by his captain’s performance and said: “We need other players to score as well. It was difficult for him to find space because of the way Aris play.”
Mancini was quietly confident his side can complete the job next week, with the winners facing either Besiktas or Dinamo Kiev.
He said: “This result is better than 1-1. We have a chance because we are at home. It will be a different pitch.
“It wasn’t a good pitch to play football. In the first half Aris got players behind the ball and it was very difficult for us.
“I think it will be a different game in Manchester. We played well, we played football and controlled the game. Aris stayed behind the ball. It was a fantastic atmosphere.”
Mancini confirmed that a laser had been pointed in the direction of Dzeko - an incident that could see Aris in trouble with UEFA.
However the Italian tried to make light of the situation and added: “I saw something. It is typical (in Greece).”
The bonus for Mancini was a cameo appearance by Mario Balotelli after a six-week absence with a knee injury. The striker could now be in line to start on Sunday in the FA Cup replay against Notts County.