Bolton Wanderers 3 Manchester City 3

Barclay’s English Premiership
Saturday 12 December 2009, 15:00 KO

City: Given, Richards, Lescott, Touré (c), Sylvinho, Barry, Kompany (Robinho 72), Bellamy, Wright-Phillips (Ireland 20), Tevez, Adebayor (Santa Cruz 81)
Unused: Taylor, Onuoha, Zabaleta, Petrov
Goals: Tevez (27, 76), Richards (45)
Booked: Sylvinho, Bellamy
Sent Off: Bellamy

Referee: Mark Clattenburg
Man of the Match: Carlos Tevez

City went into this game off the back of two excellent performances against Arsenal and Chelsea and knew they would face a physical game. Bolton fans weren’t confident and neither set of fans could have expected the game they saw.

The first action of the game saw Kevin Davies go down in the City box, but it was nothing like a foul and the referee waved play on. Bolton continue to press their visitors, winning three consecutive corners, but each came to nothing.

With nine minutes on the clock, Wright-Phillips had City’s first shot on goal, but it was well over the bar from range. City were struggling to get into the match.

And two minutes later, the visitors were made to pay. Chung Yong Lee had a shot on goal after a cross was badly defended by City. It deflected off Sylvinho and fell to Klasnic, who couldn’t miss from a yard out. But it was a bad decision to award the goal – Klasnic was a good yard offside.

Tamir Cohen tried to double Bolton’s lead with an overhead kick from inside the six yard box, but it flew over the bar, with Shay Given helpless.

It was then that City got their act together. Wright-Phillips went off through injury, replaced by Stephen Ireland and the Irishman began to have an effect on the game. City began to keep the ball and press the Bolton goal.

Jaaskelainen saved well from a Tevez shot, as Adebayor let the ball through his legs, but nobody was there to follow up and put the rebound in. And, as Ireland broke towards the box, Barry’s lay-back was just too strong and the ball ran away from the visiting side.

With just under half an hour gone, City pulled level. Bellamy crossed into the box and it was only half cleared, and Tevez puts it in, via a deflection, from the edge of the box.

Then, from a City corner, Ireland found Barry free in the box and he, somehow, put his left footed shot wide of the far post from eight yards out. Adebayor then couldn’t connect with a great cross from Sylvinho as City looked to take the lead.

A minute later, Sylvinho had a go himself – what is it they say about Brazilian full backs? – but his effort curled away from the upright at the last moment and flashed wide.

But then, as City dominated, Bolton hit them with a sucker punch. Gary Cahill lost the ball under his feet on the edge of the box, but managed to get it under control before the City defence could recover and he put a peach of a shot past Shay Given, leaving the City keeper with no chance.

But City were able to respond immediately. Some neat play from Bellamy and Adebayor sent Micah Richards through and the full back finished like a striker, beating Jaaskelainen at his near post.

The second half began with City pressing. Ireland had a shot from a corner, but it was well wide and not troubling the Bolton defence; the home side able to get the ball back down the other end of the pitch.

Ten minutes into the second half, Bolton struck again. Klasnic beat Lescott to the ball and volley his shot straight past Given, before the City keeper could react and it was 3-2.

Just before the hour mark, Tevez had a go from range, but it was well blocked and went for the corner. But Bolton were able to break, and it was a three-on-one with Sylvinho, who gave away the foul as Muamba wasn’t able to take advantage.

Just after the hour, Paul Robinson fouled Craig Bellamy clearly, but the referee thought otherwise and gave Craig Bellamy his second yellow card for diving… when he hadn’t had a first! The only conclusion to come to was that he was booked twice in the same minute, once for simulation and once for something he’d said to the referee.

With 66 minutes gone, Joleon Lescott had a wonderful chance to equalise for City, but his free header from six yards from an excellent cross by Carlos Tevez was over the bar, with Jaaskelainen stranded.

City began to pressure the Bolton goal, but they were leaving themselves open to counter attacks. First Sylvinho had to be alert to stop a breakaway, before Ireland was on hand to knock the ball back to Given.

With 15 minutes to go, Bolton substitute Elmander should have done better when he was free at the back post, but his cut back was nodded behind by Touré and City got the corner clear.

Then, with just over ten minutes to go, Tevez fired in a shot straight past Jaaskelainen from the left side of the box. It beat the Bolton keeper and found the bottom corner and it was an equaliser for the ten men.

But then City weren’t settling for a point, despite being a man down and away from home. Santa Cruz came on for Adebayor and Joleon Lescott had a wonderful chance to grab a winner with five minutes left, but his right-footed effort missed the ball completely and Bolton were off the hook.

Elmander than skied an effort well over the bar, before Robinho had a go from range and, while Jaaskelainen was confident it wasn’t going in, it had the crowd on the edge of their seats.

But, despite the four added minutes, neither side could force another chance and the game came to a close. There were several questionable decisions by the officials and City might feel hard done to, but they have a point from a fixture that it looked like they were going to lose.

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