The possibility of Champions League football at Eastlands next season moved a step closer tonight with an important 2-0 Premier League victory over North West rivals Bolton.
A penalty from Carlos Tevez and a crisp finish from Adebayor led the hosts to victory and level on points with fourth spot Liverpool.
Unfortunately, Most City fans left desperate for more and unsatisfied with another below-par performance. Since the League Cup heartbreak, late on at Old Trafford, Manchester City have found it difficult to match the high standards witnessed at the start of Both Hughes and Mancini`s reign.
Therefore, Bolton were buoyed and sensed a possibility of snatching something. The usual, gritty, determined and whole-hearted performance expected was produced. The lacklustre tempo set by City aided Bolton`s play, although they were unable to create any serious scoring opportunities.
A home debut for Vieira and particularly Johnson gave the Blues a new belief and dimension as the winger produced several passages of magic play. The match failed to produce anything the Sky cameras would have hoped and for successive matches we looked confused and unable to produce the flair and tempo expected. Bolton were bullish, their approach to the game involved a high punt encouraging the desperate runs of Elmander and Davies. Their defence was sturdy as the two banks of four worked effortlessly to thwart any possible chances.
As the match progressed the frustration and anxiety was growing amongst the home fans. A determined run from Johnson involving skill, speed and a decisive wrong decision from the Bolton defence brought a penalty. Carlos Tevez, stepped up confidently but was fortunate as his forceful penalty escaped the grasp of Jaaskelainen.
The match continued in a similar unorthodox format with few chances and only a slight glimpse of any noteworthy attempts of football. Bolton tried to force the issue, but were often found breaking up play with strong mistimed tackles.
The match wasn`t one for the neutral, a tedious encounter continued. Mancini looked on with more disappointment as his players failed to produce the unexpected or even attempt to break Bolton down. Johnson continued to dazzle the defence on rare occasions but was often unaided by the lack of attacking effort and endeavour.
Sometimes, the progression of an up and coming team is the usual winning when not playing well. These were the facts we faced and although we wasn`t pleased with the attempts of football and were often left disappointed with the weak effort, a home win would have quashed any potential pain.
A home win never looked in real doubt, the Bolton side harried and pressed but lacked the cutting edge and technical ability to force the issue and attempt to win the game. Carlos Tevez was unfortunate not to double his own, and City`s tally as his free kick dipped wickedly onto the crossbar.
The match was finally settled with some rare second half brilliance. Patrick Vieira, looking fatigued and uncomfortable in possession, chipped a delightful ball into Adebayor’s path. The striker, confident or even described as nonchalant took the ball brilliantly into his stride and swung ferociously into the opposition net.
The conclusion was settled, Bolton didn’t attempt anything serious to get back into the game and Johnson`s removal was the highlight of the closing stages. After an extremely pleasing performance the midfielder left to plaudits from all sections.
Overall, another unsettling display, producing few moments of magic, proved just enough as we continue our quest. The three points were vitally important as our attentions now turn to the F.A Cup.
No real tests. Looked to calm and comfortable on occasions.
Provided his usual width and was hard to budge. Defensively strong and present on attacking passages.
He lacks the cutting edge and desperate dive expected from your defender. Very comfortable on the ball, looks shaky when defending though.
Performed better than Toure with no real tests.
Provided width and looks good going forward. Defensively sound.
De Jong- 7
Broke up play regularly and superbly. Has bite in the tackle and rarely fails to let us down. Another pleasing display.
One of his better performances. Was helped with his midfield partners.
Expectantly off the pace. Was caught in possession too often. Great pass and assist.
He rewarded Mancini for his start with a dazzling performance. Unlike other lackluster performances from Blues players Johnson provided aggressive runs and accurate crossing. Very Pleasing.
15 goals in 15 games. A sublime effort and he is a match winner. Usual hustle and bustle performance, better in the middle.
Scored spectacularly. Again, plays too wide and this disrupts play and doesn’t help his attacking partners. Needs to stay in the middle as a target man.
Has the flair and dazzling runs. In need of a start.