Man City 1 Bolton 0: Caicedo ensures top half finish for Hughes's men
24 May 2009 06:59
Felipe Caicedo's eighth-minute goal sent Manchester City on their holidays on a high note, with a leisurely victory over Bolton.
The Ecuador forward tapped home his eighth of the campaign followingmore impressive work from Stephen Ireland to end a run of threesuccessive defeats and overcome a poor Wanderers outfit, who neverreally looked like hitting back.
A drab end-of-season encounter might be something City have become used to at this stage of the year.
However, the ambition now bubbling away under the Eastlands side means that a repeat of their 10th-placed finish in 12 months' time would almost certainly have severe consequences for Mark Hughes' job.
The latest new development is a record sponsorship deal with Etihad Airlines - a firm bankrolled by City's owners.
Nevertheless, there was bold intent behind the words of executive chairman Garry Cook as he announced the three-year deal, which will take effect from July.
'This club has gone through incredible changes in a short space of time,' he said.
'We want to do better; to challenge for honours and win major trophies and we are delighted with the foundations that have been laid down.'
Those foundations include British record signing Robinho and a host of other big-money arrivals.
To the Blues faithful, though, the most well received arrival of the year has been the returning Shaun Wright-Phillips.
His ill-fated spell at Chelsea has been consigned to the history books and, chosen today having already been publicly ruled out by manager Mark Hughes on Friday, he ignited the hosts in an entertaining north-west derby.
Wright-Phillips mazy running threatened to unhinge Bolton at regular intervals and it was slightly unfortunate his efforts only brought a single first-half goal.
It came after just eight minutes after what appeared to be a training ground free-kick routine between Robinho and Ireland went wrong.
Fortunately, Ireland improvised superbly, lifting the ball over Bolton's fractured defence after Danny Shittu had raced out to tackle.
There was still plenty of work to do but Micah Richards executed an agile cross, leaving Caicedo with the easiest of tap-ins.
The nearest City came to a second was when Ireland chased down a Caicedo cross that had just evaded Wright-Phillips after the Ecuador star had embarked on a 70-yard burst forward.
Ireland quickly provided Robinho with the cut-back and, showing impressive composure, the South American delayed his shot before crashing it against the post, Jussi Jaaskelainen.
The Bolton keeper also denied Wright-Phillips on a couple of occasions, the England man going close immediately after the break too as City continued to dominate.
When Hughes introduced impressive youngster Vladimir Weiss for his league debut 20 minutes from time, taking Ireland off to allow to midfielder to take in a standing ovation, it effectively marked the end of City's campaign.
City end the season one place and five points worse off than they were under Sven-Goran Eriksson last season, after which the former England chief got the sack.