Bolton Wanderers 3
Klasnic 11mins & 53, Cahill 42
Tevez 27mins & 79, Richards 45
- Matchday centre
- Match reports
- 12 December 2009 17:45
- Posted by Chris Bailey
As a test of mental strength after defeating two of the best teams in Europe this was the perfect game for the Blues.
A trip to the Reebok for an arm wrestle with a side already perched perilously close to a relegation battle but with a reputation for being able to mix it with the top sides was an examination paper that the Blues had to sit in order to further their top four credentials.
In the end they just about scraped a pass from a contest that contained a little bit of everything including some woeful defending, even worse refereeing and a couple of magical goals.
City arrived at their neighbours for Mark Hughes 200th game as a Premier League manager unbeaten in a dozen games in all competitions and ultra determined that it would not be a case of thirteenth time unlucky.
Having snapped a sequence of home draws with a 2-1 win over league leaders Chelsea they were keen to do the same to the away record after four stalemates in a row and they were fully aware too that with Villa visiting United and Liverpool taking on Arsenal this weekend this was a glaring opportunity to make up further ground on those in the upper echelons.
That the Blues didn’t manage to achieve that was partly down to their own defensive largesse and some strange decisions from man in the middle Clattenburg and his flag waving colleagues.
Those charged with attempting fire City into the top four – no matter how temporarily - included Sylvinho for the injured Wayne Bridge, one of three changes from the side that downed Chelsea in such eye-catching and headline grabbing fashion last weekend.
There was no quick return to the starting eleven for knee victim Stephen Ireland but Craig Bellamy came back at the expense of Robinho, who spent much of the week between the last two games professing his love for all things City – apart from the weather – but still waits to be handed his first league start away from the City of Manchester Stadium since the opening day of the season at Blackburn.
The other new name on the sheet was that of Vincent Kompany who took the place of the Dutch destroyer Nigel de Jong who was feeling unwell on Friday.
As they did last week the Blues fell behind in the opening exchanges this time in the 10th minute when Ivan Klasnic took advantage of a terrible decision from the assistant referee scoring from a an offside position after a cross from Lee.
The goal threw the men in black for a while. They looked strangely cowed and disorientated and to make matters worse lost Shaun Wright-Phillips to injury half way through the first half. Hughes’ men needed a boost and it came in the 27thminute when Bellamy’s cross was only half cleared to Carlos Tevez who found the net courtesy of a flick off Tamir Cohen.
Thereafter City looked the better side keeping it on the floor as Bolton continued to lump balls into the box. Gareth Barry had the best chance to fire then in front but was wide from eight yards eight minutes from the interval.
The visitors were ruing that miss in the shadow of half time when Gary Cahill made the City defending look terrible on the edge of the box dummying outrageously before curling home from 19-yards but they showed their battling spirits again in injury time scoring perhaps the best goal of their season so far.
Sylvinho won the initial tackle and the ball sped between Adebayor, Barry, Bellamy before the Welshman slipped Micah Richards through for a second leveller.
Anyone expecting the Blues to assert their class were handed a shock when Klasnic put Bolton in the lead for a third time. Matters got worse for City when Bellamy – having been booked earlier for disputing a throw-in during the build up to Wanderers' third goal - was sent off for what the referee determined to be a dive when he appeared to have be caught by Robinson.
Still though the Blues battling qualities shone through and Stevie Ireland, who seconds before had been last man, set up Tevez who scored a beauty to set up a thrilling finale in which both Lescott and Robinho night have won the points.