Bolton Wanderers 0 Manchester City 1: Spot of luck for Elano seals City's progress

Click to follow
The Independent Online

With England's final European qualifier 20 days away, it is another worry the nation could do without. Micah Richards was injured in this Carling Cup fourth-round tie that was decided by Elano's penalty for Manchester City seven minutes from time at the Reebok Stadium last night.

"He [Richards] caught his studs in the grass, that's what he tells me," said the City manager, Sven Goran Eriksson. "He will have a scan and before that it's impossible to say if it's serious. He tells me he will be fine but let's wait and see."

A cagey tie reflecting the fact that one side lost 6-0 at Chelsea on Saturday and the other are under new orders to become hard to beat was settled as a hotly disputed Elano penalty averted the apparent inevitability of extra time.

The Brazilian's fifth goal in five games left Gary Megson winless as Bolton Wanderers manager and nursing a feeling of considerable injustice. He described the spot-kick as "nonsensical" after Howard Webb's assistant harshly ruled that Elano's cross had been handled by substitute Lubomir Michalik rather than just having hit his elbow.

"The players deserve great credit for keeping going and are bitterly disappointed," Megson said. "You have to be 100 per cent to give a penalty and I don't see how you can even be 50 per cent with that one. It was a bit of a nonsense."

Eriksson was content with this 10th win in 14 games and added: "It was very important to win after what happened on Saturday. The spirit is there again and we defended very well."

The former England coach added a fellow Swede to his League of Nations line-up for the first time in Andreas Isaksson, who replaced Joe Hart as one of only two changes from the side so humbled at Stamford Bridge.

The goalkeeper became a 27th player used by the manager and took up his position at kick-off in front of 6,000 City fans in a crowd well down on when Bolton were watched on Sunday by their lowest-ever Premier League audience.

For the threat they were under for most of the night, City hardly needed a keeper at all. Bolton made no pretence at anything other than a 5-4-1 formation that left El Hadji Diouf isolated up front in the absence of the injured Kevin Davies and Nicolas Anelka.

There was little for the Bolton goalkeeper Jussi Jaaskelainen to do either, although an outrageous Dietmar Hamann effort sailed wide from near the half-way line and Michael Johnson steered wide.

Bolton finally managed their first goal attempts in first-half stoppage-time when Danny Guthrie blazed narrowly over from 25 yards and Abdoulaye Meite glanced a header just wide from Guthrie's centre.

City, whose last major trophy came in this competition 32 seasons ago, came under heavy pressure later on with Guthrie driving over, Diouf hitting the bar with a 20-yard free-kick, Michael Ball nodding Daniel Braten's header off the line and Isaksson saving brilliantly from Richard Dunne's misplaced header.

Bolton Wanderers (4-5-1): Jaaskelainen; J O'Brien (Michalik, 32), A O'Brien (Campo, 77), Meite, Samuel; Guthrie, Nolan, McCann, Alonso, Stelios (Braaten, 90); Diouf. Substitutes not used: Al Habsi (gk), Speed.

Manchester City (4-4-1-1): Isaksson; Corluka, Dunne, Richards (Onuoha, 73), Ball; Ireland, Hamann (Fernandes, 78), Johnson, Garrido ( Vassell, 56); Elano; Samaras. Substitutes not used: Hart (gk), Bianchi, Fernandes.

Referee: H Webb (S Yorkshire).

Comments