Klasnic sees his golden sunset strike turn red

Bolton Wanderers 2 Stoke City 1
Click to follow
The Independent Football

Just what can you make of this? Ivan Klasnic goes on as a 78th minute substitute, hits a stoppage-time winner and still has time to pick up two yellow cards and a red. Clearly his manager, Owen Coyle, had him well, er, pumped-up.

Amid the glow of securing Bolton Wanderers' first home Premier League victory of the season, the Croatian shoved a hand in the throat of Dean Whitehead following a free-kick award and then led with his left arm when challenging Rory Delap soon after.

He should have walked for the first offence and the referee, Peter Walton, made sure he did for the second, although Coyle insisted: "He just jumped early for the ball. I accept the first booking but thought the second was very harsh." Coyle also had a ready answer when asked whether his player was over-excited: "You should be excited, scoring a winner like that."

An always feisty encounter rarely hinted at such a sting in the tail, especially when Stoke City were busy underlining their reputation as the top flight's best second-half side. But Klasnic intervened dramatically, first by shooting home left-footed from eight yards after, irony of ironies, Delap and Abdoulaye Faye had failed to deal with Gretar Steinsson's long throw from the right.

Stoke deserved better. They were unfortunate to be behind at the interval, a delicious free-kick from Jermaine Pennant curling against the bar and adding to their record as the division's most frequent strikers of opponents' woodwork. Zat Knight was also fortunate to escape a penalty when he handled in the area, admittedly thanks to a hefty nudge by Robert Huth, and it seemed to sum up the visitors' day that Ricardo Fuller was led off only 10 minutes after his introduction, seemingly with a recurrence of the shoulder problem he suffered three weeks ago.

Bolton led through not much more than a toe-poke from Chung-Yong Lee following a one-two with Kevin Davies and a helpful cannon off Faye. Characteristically, Stoke's goal came from a set-piece, less typically, Delap was the beneficiary rather than the provider. He had space at the far post to direct in a close-range volley after Huth's towering leap to Pennant's right-wing corner had brought about a deflection off Paul Robinson.

"The first half was as good as we have played," said Stoke's manager Tony Pulis. "We controlled the game that much."

Bookings: Bolton: Steinsson, Klasnic. Stoke: Huth, Whitehead.

Sending-off: Klasnic

Attendance: 22,975

Referee: Peter Walton

Man of the match: Pennant