1-0 Bianchi 7, 2-2 Michalik (og) 48, 3-2 Vassell 77, 4-2 Etuhu 90
Bolton Wanderers 2
1-1 Diouf 31, 1-2 Nolan
- Match reports
- Sat 15 Dec 2007, 12:00AM
- Posted by Leon Collins
Pre Match news
A couple of surprises ahead of this Greater Manchester derby. Elano is not fit enough to feature this afternoon despite training for most of the week as Sven-Goran Eriksson makes three changes to the side that lost 2-1 at Tottenham last weekend.
Rolando Bianchi is rewarded for his goal at Spurs with a rare start, Javi Garrido drops to the bench for Michael Ball and Didi Hamann comes back in for the suspended Stephen Ireland.
So as the team with the only remaining 100% home Barclays Premier League record welcome one still looking for a first away victory...I'll stop there...this is Manchester City - buckle up for the ride!
City’s passing was as crisp as the CoMS air during the opening exchanges as Bolton looked to have gone full circle back to the same Wanderers side that came here and took all three points a week short of a year ago today.
But memories of that Anelka-inspired defeat were forgotten after just seven minutes.
The Blues made the most of a defensive error by Gardner as Bianchi’s throughball had enough spin to bamboozle the Jamaican and Vassell latched on to it 20-yards from goal. Jaaskelainen couldn’t hold Vassell’s effort as Bolton recovered, but he managed to find a well-placed Johnson, who squared it to Rolando Bianchi, and he happily slid City into the lead from close range.
Any game plan Gary Megson had come with to keep City out had failed within the first 10 minutes and the Blues threatened again with a couple of swift counter-attacks soon after the opener.
More neat build-up play, this time involving Michael’s Johnson and Ball on 24 minutes ended with Vassell winning an unlikely header inside the box, which unfortunately didn’t cause the keeper any problems.
A minute later Bolton were almost celebrating an equaliser as danagerman Anelka made a clever run before somehow managing to clip the near post with a shot from nothing. A timely reminder to City of the need for a second goal.
If that was a warning that Bolton had steadied themselves, then El Hadji Diouf delivered the killer blow on 31 minutes.
All three Wanderers' strikers linked up well as Anelka's back flick found Diouf and as he gave the ball to Davies the Senegal hitman carried on his run to get onto the end of Davies' cross-shot and fire past a helpless Isaksson from no more than six-yards out.
There were loud claims for a City penalty seven minutes before the break as Bianchi set himself for the spectacular and appeared to be fouled by Meite. Nothing given.
And a minute later Bolton turned the game on its head.
Ricardo Gardner made up for his mistake for the first goal by getting the better of Corluka, his cross from the Bolton left was partially cut out by Hamann, but dropped to Kevin Nolan and he toe-poked the ball home on 40 minutes to give the Trotters the lead.
A shell-shocked City headed in at half time behind for the first time this season at home and were in need of some wise words from the Blues boss.
HALF TIME: City 1-2 Bolton
Sven made the only change at the break with youngster Kelvin Etuhu coming on for Fernandes to add an attacking presence.
And what a substitution because within three minutes the scores were level.
As Etuhu caused trouble down the right with his first involvement he cut inside and his cross bounced about the area and broke again to the 19-year-old. He kept his composure with the crowd screaming 'shoot' and found Didi Hamann - the German did just that from 25-yards out and a vital deflection from Michalik sent the ball beyond Jaaskelainen.
The game had turned into a cagey affair with all the hallmarks of a derby and neither side wanted to give anything away as the clock ticked around to 70 minutes.
Bolton had a great chance on 72 and the Blues had Andreas Isaksson to thank for a great close range save from Anelka. That sparked an immediate response from City and Vassell broke, found Michael Johnson, who turned his shot onto the outside of the post as the game had cranked up for the final 15 minutes.
Right on cue City went back into the lead with 13 minutes to go. Martin Petrov showed great pace to break clear and despite looking to have gone too far wide he managed to pull the ball across goal where Darius Vassell got the faintest of touches and it was good enough to roll over the line going in off the post.
Bolton pressed hard, but the second important sub by Sven had Wanderers worried as Javi Garrido broke clear twice in the final moments to set up chances that were squandered, before it was third time lucky in injury time.
The Spaniard rolled the ball across to Kelvin Etuhu and the young Academy Graduate kept his cool to blast the ball home. Points secured, Etuhu jumped into the crowd to celebrate his first ever senior City strike, earning the mandatory yellow card in the process.
The whistle blew shortly after and ahead of tomorrow's over hyped clash of the 'big four' City celebrate by ending the game in the top four of Premier League.
FULL TIME: City 4-2 Bolton
mcfc.co.uk's Man of the Match: Darius Vassell. Full of workrate and his first goal of the season gave City the edge at a vital time in the game.