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Manchester City 2 Bolton Wanderers 0: match report
Published : 09 Feb 2010 21:48:57
Two very familiar names, Carlos Tévez and Emmanuel Adebayor, struck the goals to give Manchester City a slightly nervy victory on Tuesday night but it was a new boy, Adam Johnson, who really made a name for himself. Johnson was terrific on his first City start, showing energy, pace and skill, particularly when moving wide against a Bolton Wanderers side who never gave up. Johnson won the penalty for Tévez's penalty and was deservedly voted man of the match. Related ArticlesMancini hails Johnson's impact at CityPremier League actionPremier League tableTelegraph player raterPremier League fixturesSport on televisionAnother man making his first start, Patrick Vieira, was less impressive but did conjure one moment of magic, lifting a beautiful pass through for Adebayor to confirm City's climb into fifth place, behind Liverpool only on goal difference with a game in hand. Roberto Mancini had sprung a surprise, employing a diamond formation with Johnson in the hole, Nigel de Jong anchoring with Gareth Barry and Vieira pushing on towards Tévez and Adebayor. Too narrow. Too confusing. Just before the half-hour mark, Mancini acted, switching Johnson to right midfield to great effect, the new boy promptly winning the penalty from which Tévez gave City the lead. Johnson had caught the eye before then, mainly with his left-footed corners, the ball often targeted towards to Vieira, making an unconvincing home debut. Until Johnson's mesmerising piece of wing-play, the highlight of the first half had been Vieira's intriguing duel with Wilshere, Arsenal's past colliding with Arsenal's future. Wilshere, initially central but soon moving left, showed some wonderful touches, gliding away from Vieira and Pablo Zabaleta at one point. As well as the artistic, the physics have clearly been part of Wilshere's education at London Colney. He certainly did not hold back in one challenge on Tévez, knocking the Argentine over and earning a dismissive wave. At times, Wilshere combined deftly with Kevin Davies and Johan Elmander. Bolton's strikers were always going to worry Kolo Toure, never the most commanding in the air. When Davies nodded down to Elmander, the Swede fired wide. During his uneventful stay in England, Elmander has certainly lived up to his country's reputation for neutrality. He lacks Davies' competitive edge. Bolton still carried a measure of threat, particularly when the ball was with Wilshere or Davies. Mancini has never been afraid to make major tactical alterations mid-match and he acted decisively here, ushering Johnson to the right, an inspired move. On the half-hour, the new signing from Middlesbrough made the telling break of the first period, embarking on a clever dribble down the flank, the surge demonstrating the full range of his qualities. First, Johnson paraded his pace, racing away from Wilshere. Then he revealed the tricks in his locker, completely deceiving Paul Robinson with a couple of step-overs. Left giddy by Johnson's movement, Bolton's right-back blindly pushed out a leg and caught City's new No 11. Clear penalty. As Mike Jones pointed to the spot, Tévez grabbed the ball. Jussi Jaaskelainen tried to unsettle Tévez by assuming the Suzanne Vega position, left of centre. The Finn invited Tévez to place the ball into the larger untended side but the Argentine refused to fall for it. Knowing Jaaskelainen would dive that way, Tévez drilled it down the middle. Bolton's keeper still managed to get a leg in the way but such was the power of Tevez's kick that the ball carried into the net. Bolton refused to be downhearted, building upfield again. When Vieira headed out, Fabrice Muamba let fly, his shot catching Vincent Kompany and forcing Shay Given into a scrambling save. Reminded of Bolton's threat, City had good chances to double the lead either side of the interval. Just before the break, Bridge swept a long diagonal from left to right, Sam Ricketts lost the ball in the lights, allowing the ball to skid through to Adebayor. Perhaps surprised by the ball's arrival, the Togo international shot early, sending the ball wide. After the restart, Tamir Cohen handled 25 yards out and Tévez lifted a free-kick over the Bolton wall and on to the bar. Johnson continued to shine, cutting in from the right and denied only by Given's stretching save. Such was Johnson's threat that Muamba brought him down, earning a deserved caution. Seeking the comfort of a second goal, Mancini rang the changes again: he sent Shaun Wright-Phillips on to the right, switched Johnson to the left, withdrew Bridge and dropped Bridge to left-back. City immediately stepped up a gear, seizing a second goal after 72 minutes. Vieira had done little of real note yet he suddenly rolled back the years, sweeping a 40-yard pass perfectly through to Adebayor. City's No 25 chested the ball down and then volleyed it majestically past Jaaskelainen. The game briefly turned nasty, Bolton seething with a sense of injustice when Davies' appeal for a penalty were waved away by Jones. Seconds later, Robinson flew into a wild challenge on Wright-Phillips. If the England winger was fortunate to escape injury, Robinson was incredibly lucky to escape expulsion.