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 Saturday, 30 November, 2002, 18:02 GMT
Man City ease past Bolton
Manchester City's Steve Howey (2nd left) is congratulated by team mates
City have heaped more pressure on Bolton
Manchester City 2-0 Bolton

Manchester City captain Steve Howey scored on his return after a three-match absence as Bolton were plunged deeper into trouble.

City sealed victory when Eyal Berkovic doubled their advantage with an early second-half strike.

They had started the game just four points above Bolton, who have now have only West Ham below them.

That performance was excellent - we thoroughly deserved to win

Manchester City boss Kevin Keegan

With both sides haunted by the threat of relegation, it was no surprise that the game was a tense, scrappy affair.

And a slick playing surface, due to persistent rain and a swirling wind, hardly helped matters.

Bolton started brightly but could not turn their possession into chances.

It took the hosts a while to settle but once they had it proved an easy victory as they dominated without being at their best.

And fittingly they had the first opportunity of the match when Nicolas Anelka's pace earned him a shooting chance.

Key moments
25 mins: Steve Howey opens the scoring
56 mins: Berkovic hits City's second

However, the Frenchman saw his shot easily smothered by Bolton keeper Jussi Jaaskelainen.

Anelka continued to cause problems and Bolton must have wished they could boast a similar threat in attack.

Their best chance fell to the disinterested-looking Jay Jay Okocha in the second half, but he could not beat Peter Schmeichel.

By then City were already coasting to victory after Berkovic had combined well with Anelka to put his side two goals up.

The Israeli midfielder collected his team-mate's pass and slipped the ball beyond Jaaskelainen from a tight angle for only his second goal of the season.

In the Premiership you need your big players to be playing well, and that wasn't the case

Bolton manager Sam Allardyce

Berkovic had already had a major influence on the match when he floated in a corner mid-way through the first half.

Kevin Horlock flicked the ball on and Howey, unmarked at the far post, powered a header through Jaaskelainen's legs and into the net.

It was match which lacked quality and was representative of the sides' league positions.

But on this showing, City have the ability to drag themselves out of trouble while Bolton woes look set to continue.

Man City: Schmeichel, Dunne, Howey, Distin, Jihai, Berkovic, Foe, Horlock, Tiatto, Goater (Benarbia 81), Anelka.
Subs Not Used: Nash, Huckerby, Wright-Phillips, Wiekens.

Bolton: Jaaskelainen, Barness, Campo, Warhurst, Charlton, Okocha, Tofting (Ricketts 60), Nolan (Livesey 75), Gardner, Pedersen (Johnson 68), Djorkaeff.
Subs Not Used: Poole, Southall.

Booked: Gardner, Nolan.

Attendance: 34,860.

Referee: J Winter (Cleveland).

 BBC Five Live's Stuart Hall
"Anelka's foot-work was exquisite"
 Man City boss Kevin Keegan
"Despite the rumours I'm still here"
 Bolton boss Sam Allardyce
"We hadn't the height to cope"
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