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Match Report: Manchester City 2-0 Bolton Wanderers (Bolton Fan's Perspective)

By Rob
Saturday 3rd March 2012
Bolton Wanderers succumbed to a fourth consecutive Premier League defeat as they produced yet another pathetic, abject performance in a 2-0 defeat to Manchester City. The hosts maintained their 100% home record to move five points clear as they Bolton, who had only two clear chances all match, from the first minute to the last.

Bolton went into today's game joint bottom of the Premier League and prospects of getting anything from a clash against the league's rampant leaders were not promising. Manager Owen Coyle bizarrely opted for a 5-man defence, with Zat Knight returning to form a centre-half trio with David Wheater and Tim Ream. Coyle also oddly selected Darren Pratley, who tends to contribute absolutely nothing, ahead of the hard-working Fabrice Muamba, and Sanli Tuncay was understandably sacrificed from a side decimated at Chelsea last time out.

The hosts were clearly confident of a victory as they emitted creative genius David Silva and top goalscorer Sergio Aguero from the starting line-up, with David Pizarro making his first Premier League start in midfield.

Bolton nearly succumbed to defeat instantly, as Mario Balotelli, played in on goal by Yaya Toure, fired the ball across Bolton goalkeeper Adam Bogdan only to see his effort crash against the far post. Following up Samir Nasri failed to find the net.

A minute later Balotelli missed an absolute sitter, after Adam Johnson got to the byline and pulled the ball back to the striker, who swivelled and fired the ball narrowly wide. Bolton were clearly going into the game thinking '11 men behind the ball', but found this tactic was of course counter-productive as it gave the hosts total freedom of the midfield, and only served to encourage them to launch attack after attack.

But despite getting everyone back in defence, Bolton were failing to pick up City's only forward. Balotelli again should have scored on 12 minutes, breaking clear of the defence from what appeared an offside position, the striker eventually realised he was onside, advanced in the inside right position but fired wildly over the bar.

The game then enjoyed a lull for 12 minutes or so as the visitors managed to subdue the free-flowing City football and subsequently silenced the home crowd. But the lull only served to contribute to Bolton's downfall.

Half-way through the first half Gael Clichy lashed a long range shot that was going straight into Bogdan's hands but fortuitously took a huge deflection off Gretar Steinsson, which sent the ball in the opposite direction and flew into the net to put the hosts in front.

Bolton finally had a chance to score, on one of their first attacks on the half-hour when the lively Nigel Reo-Coker threaded through David N'Gog, but the goal-shy striker was typically unable to convert and hit the ball straight at Joe Hart. Just minutes later Hart was called into action again as Ryo Miyaichi pounced upon a Kolo Toure error and hit a curling right footed effort towards the far corner but was brilliantly denied by England's number one.

City should have scored yet again through Balotelli just before half-time. The Italian striker received the ball from Kompany, controlled the ball and shot only to be denied by Bogdan performing miracles in the Bolton goal, justifying the decision to pick him ahead of Jussi Jaaskalainen by somehow keeping Wanderers just 1-0 behind at the break.

The second half started much as the first half had ended, as Balotelli was played in on goal but Bogdan rushed out to deny the onrushing striker. City continued to command possession and nearly doubled their lead again when Kolo Toure fired the ball narrowly wide from distance just after the hour mark.

City continued to dominate and almost scored their second goal just minutes later in bizarre fashion. The awful Pratley got in front of Edin Dzeko, on in place of Pizarro, 25 yards from his own goal and in attempting to make a tackle only succeeded in toe-poking the ball past Bogdan and crashing against his own crossbar.

But eventually City did double their lead with 20 minutes to go. A wonderful run by Adam Johnson saw him somehow get past the pathetic attempts of tackles by Knight and Sam Ricketts to get into the box, then beat Wheater and back-heeled the ball past Bogdan to set up a tap-in for Balotelli who, after having had about ten chances already, finally got his name on the scoresheet to kill the game off.

Bolton came into this match looking like a team that knew they were going to lose and seemed relatively happy to settle for limiting City to a 2-0 win. At this level that is simply unacceptable, and is something no other team in this division would do. Compare this to sides like Swansea and Norwich, who may not have the world's greatest players but are full of belief that on their day they can beat anyone. That is something Bolton do not have, as portrayed in the two pathetic away performances against Chelsea and City. Coyle must do something about this losing streak Wanderers find themselves on, and fast, otherwise it's a very swift hello to The Championship.

Manchester City: Hart; Zabaleta (K Toure 19) Lescott, Kompany, Clichy; Y Toure, Barry, Pizarro (Dzeko 61); Johnson, Nasri; Balotelli. Unused subs: Pantilimon, Kolarov, Aguero, Silva.

Goals: Steinsson og (23), Balotelli (69)

Bolton: Bogdan; Steinsson, Knight, Ream, Wheater, Ricketts; M Davies, Reo-Coker, Pratley (Muamba 87), Miyaichi; N'Gog. Unused subs: Jaaskalainen, Robinson, Eagles, Petrov, Klasnic, Sordell.

Total articles: 69

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