BOLTON 2, MAN CITY 3
If there has been any criticism levelled at Manchester City under Italian Roberto Mancini it is they were last season too defensive, despite the vast array of talent in their side.
Two matches into the new Barclays Premier League campaign and they have posted two wins, scored seven goals and proudly top the table to firmly dispel the defensive myth.
It is something which also clearly plays on the minds of fans because as the goals rained in at the Reebok against Bolton Wanderers, there were ironic chants of ‘boring, boring City.’
That certainly cannot be directed at the current City side on the evidence of the first two league matches as they have produced some exhilarating, attacking football.
Goals from David Silva, Gareth Barry and Edin Dzeko helped City pick up maximum points on a ground where visiting team invariably struggle.
The City win was more convincing than the slender margin indicates and suggests they will mount a serious title challenge after last season forcing their way into the top four, a giant step forward in their evolvement.
City manager Roberto Mancini admitted his side needs to score 10/15 more goals if they are to mount a serious title challenge.
Mancini was concerned, however, about the two goals conceded which came on the back of the three leaked in the FA Community Shield.
The City chief said: “We cannot concede goals like the two we did today. We need to pay more attention if we are to play a good championship.
“It is important to have that balance, but we cannot afford to concede more goals than we did last season.
“We dominated the game and had 10 chances to score and it was impossible after 90 minutes it was 3-2.”
City made three changes from the team which kicked off at home to Swansea City in their season’s opener.
There was a first start for £38million signing Sergio Aguero while Aleksander Kolarov and James Milner also made the side. The players to lose out were the injured Nigel de Jong, Gael Clichy and Adam Johnson.
It was clear from the kick off that City would be in for a far more robust examination than against the newly-promoted Swans.
Bolton, established as a Premier League side 2001, also had a decent record against City. Though City won last season’s fixture at the Reebok, it was their first success on the ground in six Premier League visits.
Chris Eagles’ early free kick forced a scrambling save from City keeper Joe Hart while centre-half Zat Knight fired just wide after the visitors failed to clear a corner.
It took City time to get into their stride, but eventually chances fell to Milner and Aguero, the latter blazed over from in front of an inviting goal.
City made a breakthrough in the 26th minute after a howler from Jussi Jaaskelainen as the Finn completely misjudged a shot from Silva which deceived the keeper as it bounced in front of him. The Bolton defence was also at fault failing to close down Spaniard Silva.
Aguero, who made a sensational debut as a two goal super-sub against the Swans six days earlier, was having a frustrating afternoon. He had the ball in the net only for it to be ruled out for offside then planted a free header wide.
City doubled their advantage in the 37th minute when Milner’s corner was cut back to Barry who thundered a 25-yard drive into the top corner of the net.
If City thought they had the game won they were mistaken as Bolton quickly halved the deficit when their former winger Martin Petrov crossed from the left and Ivan Klasnic struck a fierce, low shot past keeper Joe Hart.
City restored their two-goal advantage within two minutes of the restart when Dzeko breezed past Zat Knight and from the right side of the box shot low to the right of Jaaskelainen.
Bolton refused to throw in the towel and were rewarded with a second goal midway through the second period when Kevin Davies glanced a header from a well-directed free kick wide of Hart’s despairing dive to his left.
Carlos Tevez replaced Aguero with 22 minutes left and the want-away Argentinian was greeted with far more cheers than jeers.
Johnson, who replaced Dzeko with 10 minutes left, danced his way clear in the box only to see his angled shot fly just wide of the far post as the winger could have sealed victory which ought to have been by a far wider margin than one goal.