Carlos Tevez and Emmanuel Adebayor grabbed a goal apiece as Man City overcame Bolton at Eastlands.
Johnson inspires Eastlands winCarlos Tevez and Emmanuel Adebayor grabbed a goal apiece as Manchester City overcame Bolton at Eastlands to reignite their quest for a UEFA Champions League spot. City had been suffering a Carling Cup hangover since being edged out by arch-rivals Manchester United in the semi-finals as they lumbered past Portsmouth and were shocked by Hull CIty in their last two league games. And it was more of the same in the opening exchanges of Tuesday's clash despite Roberto Mancini's decision to give Patrick Vieira and Adam Johnson their full debuts. But the latter kicked off his man-of-the-match winning performance as the deadline day signing took full advantage of a hanging Paul Robinson leg to earn City a penalty in the 30th minute. Jussi Jaaskelainen's tactics to put off Tevez were in vain as the Argentine striker scored his 11th league goal in as many games, albeit through a fortunate finish which cannoned off the Trotters goalkeeper before nestling in the net. City failed to add to their tally until late on when Adebayor scored his ninth goal of the season via a sumptuous volley to move Mancini's side into fifth, level on points with Liverpool with a game in hand.
Johnson thrillsJohnson - signed for £8million from Middlesbrough minutes before the January transfer window closed, left to a standing ovation six minutes from time after providing most of the thrills on a chilly evening. Johnson kept Bolton on the back foot and ensured there was no second away point of the season for Owen Coyle, whose only other one came on this ground in November when he was still at Burnley. It is a run that must end quickly given Bolton could easily find themselves in the drop zone after Wednesday night's games, and facing Coyle with a massive job to prove it was not a mistake to bring him in to replace Gary Megson. While Vieira required no introduction on his home debut, Johnson remained a bit of an unknown in these parts. Not in his native north-east though, where he was rated good enough to merit a place in the Middlesbrough line-up, aged just 20, even though Stewart Downing occupied his favoured left-sided midfield berth. Those days on the right flank have served the England Under-21 star well by the ease with which he swapped wings to unsettle the Bolton defence. City were probably glad they made their deadline-day purchase too. Without Johnson's swift movement and nimble feet, Roberto Mancini's men might have been in trouble against a Bolton side, trying to metamorphosis into a passing team under Coyle while at the same time desperately attempting to stave off relegation. The arrival of Jack Wilshere should help.
RashArsene Wenger clearly approves of Coyle's approach to the beautiful game and Wilshere brings an element of silk to go with the steel Bolton will also need if they are going to survive. What the Trotters can certainly do without is the kind of rash tackle Paul Robinson made to chop down Johnson, when the only place he seemed to be heading was over the goal-line. Referee Mike Jones had no doubt it was a penalty despite Robinson's protests, TV replays indicating the Bolton full-back was engaging in a cover-up exercise given the ridiculous nature of his challenge. Not that Kolo Toure did any better when he scrambled across Johan Elmander, sending the Swede tumbling to the deck as he was about to reach a loose ball with his back to Shay Given's goal. The protests were just as fierce but this time Jones said no, denying Bolton a chance to level Carlos Tevez's 19th goal of the campaign after Jussi Jaaskelainen had failed to keep the South American's poor effort out.
Interval impetusBolton could have done with getting Wilshere into more central positions because with a bit more guile they could easily have levelled, such was the impetus they gained at the start of the second period. As has been pointed out to Wenger repeatedly over the past few days, possession and passes are all very well, but football's hard currency will always remain goals and points. Mancini was sufficiently disturbed to abandon his solid three-man midfield line by bringing on Shaun Wright-Phillips for Wayne Bridge, a move that involved a significant reshuffle given one is a right-winger, the other a left-back; Gareth Barry's adaptability allowing him to fill the latter role. The move was unorthodox. But it worked a treat, unlike Bolton's offside trap as the visitors failed to keep tabs on Adebayor as he ran onto Vieira's elegant chipped through ball. A chest control and crisp, volleyed finish came straight out of the textbook and Adebayor raced away to celebrate. Bolton continued to huff and puff until the final whistle, by which time Johnson had departed to a standing ovation he is set to receive plenty of on this evidence.
|Manchester City||Team Statistics||Bolton Wanderers|
|1||1st Half Goals||0|
|3||Shots on Target||4|
|5||Shots off Target||8|