Magic Johnson sizzles as star duo kill off Bolton
Manchester City 2
Two very familiar names, Carlos Tevez and Emmanuel Adebayor, struck the goals to give Manchester City a slightly nervy victory last 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 side who never gave up. Johnson won the penalty for Tevez's goal and was deservedly voted man of the match.
Another 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.
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 Tevez and Adebayor. Too narrow. Too confusing. Just before the half-hour mark, Mancini acted, switching Johnson to right midfield, the new boy promptly winning the penalty from which City took the lead.
Until Johnson's mesmerising piece of wing play, the highlight of the first half was Vieira's duel with Jack 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 Tevez, bowling the Argentine over.
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.
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, Tevez grabbed the ball. Jussi Jaaskelainen tried to unsettle Tevez by assuming the Suzanne Vega position, left of centre. The Finn invited Tevez to place the ball into the larger untended side, but the Argentine refused to fall for it, drilling the ball down the middle.
Just before the break, Wayne Bridge swept a pass 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 wide.
After the restart, Tamir Cohen handled 25 yards out and Tevez lifted a free-kick onto the crossbar.
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 Barry to left-back. City stepped up a gear, seizing a second goal after 72 minutes. Vieira suddenly rolled back the years, sweeping a 40-yard pass 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's 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. (Daily Telegraph, London)