Premier League - Man City cruise to win over Bolton

Sat, 03 Mar 16:52:00 2012

Manchester City went five points clear at the top of the Premier League table after comfortably beating Bolton Wanderers 2-0 at the Etihad Stadium.

Man City 2 Bolton 0

Gael Clichy's strike from range midway through the first half opened the scoring, although it will go down as a Gretar Steinsson own goal after the shot took a significant deflection off his head.

Mario Balotelli then doubled City's lead with 20 minutes remaining, courtesy of an excellent backheeled assist from Adam Johnson.

A fifth straight defeat away to City leaves Bolton in the relegation zone, while City will watch Manchester United's match at Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday with interest.

Despite visiting the leaders, Owen Coyle's team sheet included some curious selections. Adam Bogdan, Tim Ream, Darren Pratley and David Ngog were picked ahead of Jussi Jaaskleainen, Fabrice Muamba, Chris Eagles and Ivan Klasnic respectively.

City blitzed Bolton right from the off and could have been 3-0 ahead in the opening 10 minutes. Pablo Zabaleta pulled the ball back from the byline to Samir Nasri, but the French playmaker got the ball stuck under his feet and the eventual effort was blocked.

Moments later Balotelli struck the far post as City again carved Bolton up down the right, and Bogdan saved Nasri's effort on the rebound.

Balotelli had another chance to open the scoring when he was picked out by Johnson's squared pass, but he could only fire wide from close range after stretching to bring the ball under control.

Zabaleta picked up a knock after 20 minutes and was replaced by Kolo Toure, but that barely affected City's dominance and they went ahead three minutes later. Clichy was given the time and space to line up a strike from the edge of the box. His effort struck Steinsson's head and the ball flew inside the near post. Clichy is still waiting for his first league goal since November 2008.

The only bright spark for Bolton was Ryo Miyaichi. The Japanese midfielder, on loan from Arsenal, wriggled his way past Kolo Toure and sidefooted a neat low finish toward the far corner, only denied by a fingertip save from Joe Hart.

Kolo Toure would have finished off an exceptional team goal just before half-time if he had not rushed his shot - and Bolton were fortunate to go into the break just one goal behind.

After the restart the match was much the same. Balotelli almost scored right at the start of the half when he was put through one-on-one with the keeper by Gareth Barry, but Bogdan was off his line quickly to block the shot.

Kolo Toure flashed a shot wide after a one-two with Nasri before City hit the crossbar via an unlikely source. Desperate to challenge substitute Edin Dzeko on the edge of the box, Pratley prodded his foot at the ball and succeeded not only in winning it but also toepoking it over Bogdan and off the frame of the goal.

Soon afterwards, City did indeed double their lead. Yaya Toure's determination instigated an attack down the left and Johnson battled his way to the byline before picking out Balotelli with a backheel that rolled underneath Bogdan and gave the Italian a simple finish for his 11th league goal of the season.

Bolton have failed to score in four of their last five Premier League matches and each of the last four on the road. The only side with a worse goal difference are Wigan Athletic, the only team below them in the table.

Tony Mabert - @tony_mabert / Eurosport

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