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Page last updated at 16:01 GMT, Saturday, 16 August 2008 17:01 UK

Bolton 3-1 Stoke

By Owen Phillips

Johan Elmander heads Bolton ahead against Stoke
Elmander scored on an impressive debut for Megson's side

Bolton new boy Johan Elmander scored on his debut as Stoke were brushed aside on their Premier League debut.

The Potters' physical approach posed problems early on but Bolton took control and went ahead when Gretar Steinsson's attempted cross flew in.

Gary Cahill's free-kick saw Kevin Davies's flicked header make it 2-0 and Elmander sealed victory with a fine glancing header just before the break.

Substitute Ricardo Fuller made it 3-1 with an injury-time header for Stoke.

Fuller's consolation was barely deserved although it was probably down to Bolton's lack of ambition in an almost-chanceless second period.

Megson was delighted with a 'team performance'

The damage had been done in a frantic 15-minute spell before half-time with Elmander, an 8.2m summer signing from Toulouse, at the centre of everything good about Bolton's play.

He led the forward line superbly with Kevin Nolan providing the craft playing just behind him and Davies causing no end of problems with his usual bustling display.

Elmander twice went close to opening the scoring, shooting over from a tight angle and then almost turning a teasing cross into the box.

Stoke, with the aerial threat of Dave Kitson to the fore, were also threatening with Rory Delap's long throws providing more than a few moments of defensive uncertainty in the home defence.

Leon Cort should have given Stoke the lead only to be denied by a stunning point-blank save from Jussi Jaaskelainen.

Pulis admitted his side's lack of experience

At the other end Matthew Taylor wasted a good chance to get a shot away but Gary Megson's men did not have to wait long to go ahead, albeit with a fortunate goal.

Right-back Gretar Steinsson found space and attempted to power in a cross from the right-hand corner of the box and the ball fizzed past a bemused Thomas Sorensen and into the far corner.

Having gone ahead, Bolton seized complete control and wrapped up the win with two goals in four minutes before the break.

Both came from simple free-kicks launched into the box and both will have infuriated Stoke boss Tony Pulis.

Cahill punted a free-kick hopefully into the box and Davies outmuscled two defenders and simply flicked the ball into the far corner.


Elmander then added a third when he reacted first to meet O'Brien's fine set-piece and glance the ball home.

The impressive Elmander could have added a fourth within five minutes of the restart but shot wide after a fabulous pass from Fabrice Muamba.

And Bolton's only other decent chance saw Kitson do superbly well to clear a deft Nolan flick off the line after a superb one-two with Elmander

Elmander left to a standing ovation moments later but Stoke had the final say when Fuller gave the passionate travelling support something to cheer when he headed home deep into stoppage-time.

Bolton boss Gary Megson:
"I'm really pleased. I was delighted with the goals we scored and the way we went about our work.

"There's a tendency to write off teams that come up from the Championship but we dealt well with their long throws.

"We scored at the right times, Johan Elmander was terrific, Frabrice Muamba was superb but the whole team did really well.

"I can't think of one performance from our team that was disappointing but we have only taken the first step."

Stoke boss Tony Pulis:
"We started very brightly and the goal came out of the blue and knocked us a little bit. It's disappointing that we went a little bit flat.

"I thought we were the better team up until the first goal but we had a mad fifteen minutes and conceded two soft goals from set-pieces.

"Hopefully we've got players that we can bring in down the spine of the team that will give us experience

"Nobody expected us to get promoted it's not a great start but we'll take it on the chin and bounce back."

Bolton: Jaaskelainen, Steinsson, Cahill, Andrew O'Brien, Samuel, Joey O'Brien, Nolan, Muamba, Taylor, Davies, Elmander (McCann 76).
Subs Not Used: Al Habsi, Hunt, Gardner, Mustapha, Shittu, Cohen.

Booked: Steinsson.

Goals: Steinsson 34, Davies 41, Elmander 45.

Stoke: Sorensen, Wilkinson (Dickinson 76), Cort, Shawcross, Griffin, Delap, Olofinjana, Whelan (Lawrence 56), Cresswell, Kitson, Sidibe (Fuller 65).
Subs Not Used: Simonsen, Pericard, Diao, Amdy Faye.

Booked: Olofinjana, Lawrence.

Goals: Fuller 90.

Att: 22,717

Ref: Chris Foy (Merseyside).

BBC Sport Player Rater man of the match: Bolton's Johan Elmander 7.86 (on 90 minutes).

Please note that you can still give the players marks out of 10 on BBC Sport's Player Rater after the match has finished.

see also
Bolton 3-1 Stoke
16 Aug 08 |  Premier League
Saturday's football photos
16 Aug 08 |  Football
How to watch Match of the Day
08 Oct 07 |  Match of the Day

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