Dzeko & Silva star as Man City go top
Sergio Aguero and Carlos Tevez had mere bit-part roles as David Silva and Edin Dzeko stole the show at the Reebok Stadium to send Manchester City top of the Premier League with a 3-2 win over Bolton.
Roberto Mancini’s men claimed a second successive league win and demonstrated their awesome attacking power by taking their goal tally to seven at battling Bolton.
Silva, Gareth Barry and Dzeko were on target as Aguero had a sobering experience after his dream debut against Swansea. The £38million (Dh228m) record signing’s last appearance at the Reebok with former club Atletico Madrid in 2008 saw him sent off for spitting.
This time Aguero was spitting mad after spurning two easy chances. He peeled away cleverly in the 18th minute to meet a Dzeko cross with the same sweetness of the 25-yard thunderbolt for his second goal last Monday. The difference here was the direction as he swept it inches over the bar.
The same outcome followed in the 35th minute when Dzeko floated over a cross that picked out the unmarked Argentine. His leap was perfect, but the header not so as it drifted wide.
Aguero grimaced. He was human after all. But Silva and Dzeko spared his blushes, although Bolton keeper Jussi Jaaskelainen showed his good and bad side too as City took control.
The Finn spread himself superbly to block a James Milner effort from close range, but then blundered to gift City a 26th minute opener. Silva sent a left-foot shot that should have been a routine save for Jaaskelainen, but the ball bounced in front and over him.
Until then, Bolton had unsettled their neighbours. They have never let big reputations worry them at the Reebok and took seven points off Manchester United, Spurs and Arsenal last season.
And few love a scrap more than captain Kevin Davies. He won a free kick in the fourth minute that led to the first chance, but Joe Hart made a good parry from a Chris Eagles free kick.
And then Martin Petrov showed glimpses of the quality that City saw all too rarely during his injury-plagued three years with them. It was his corner that Vincent Kompany could only head at Zat Knight, but his shot was instinctive and flew wide. Davies then had a header deflected over by Joleon Lescott after more pressure.
But amid all the rough and tumble, there is Silva. Somehow he always finds space and it appears everything he touches with his left foot turns to gold. Barry said: “He played fantastic for us last year and has been fantastic again in the first couple of games this year as well.”
Barry showed his was not bad either when he fired home City’s second in the 37th minute from 25 yards.
But Bolton asked questions of their character when they pulled a goal back just two minutes later. Petrov’s volleyed cross from the left was matched by the finish from Ivan Klasnic for his second goal in as many starts.
But if he is enjoying something of a renaissance, so too is Dzeko. Agile, aggressive and accurate; qualities that were highlighted two minutes after the restart when he scored the decisive third goal. Milner lofted a ball into the box and the Bosnian muscled his way ahead of Knight and volleyed confidently past Jaaskelainen for his fourth goal in as many games.
But, as Manchester United proved in the Community Shield, Mancini’s men are still suspect defensively and can struggle to kill off games. And Davies put that theory to the test when he rose superbly to glance a Petrov free kick past Hart to make it 3-2 in the 63rd minute.
It was time for change and for Tevez to make his grand entrance. Few expected him to wear the City shirt again after his much-publicised dislike for life in Manchester and demand to leave. But on he came in the 68th minute to replace compatriot Aguero and within a minute he set up Silva in the box, but Knight made a crucial block.
Johnson should have settled matters six minutes from time when he left Knight in a heap with mesmerising footwork but dragged his shot wide. Tevez stretched to meet that ball, but had a sight of goal himself two minutes later. It would have been a fitting finale when Silva spotted his run and slipped a pass into him, but Tevez ballooned over.
With more transfer activity expected this week, it remains to be seen if that will be his final contribution for the club.