Belfast Telegraph

City stretch lead

Mario Balotelli again took centre stage as Manchester City saw off Bolton 2-0 to move five points clear at the top of the Barclays Premier League.

The mercurial Italian, again in the headlines for non-footballing reasons on Saturday morning, spurned a hatful of chances but eventually got on the scoresheet in another commanding City display at the Etihad Stadium.

City needed a Gretar Steinsson own goal to open the scoring in the first half before Balotelli doubled the advantage in the 69th minute.

There were suggestions Balotelli might have been dropped following reports he had been on a night out in Liverpool in breach of a club curfew into the early hours of Friday morning. Roberto Mancini retained him though and he was a persistent threat to the Bolton defence.

He hit the post in the second minute and, after Samir Nasri had been denied by Adam Bogdan, the Italian was unable to hit the target with two more great opportunities by the 13th minute.

City's opener eventually came when Gael Clichy's long-range effort took a deflection off Steinsson and beat Bogdan.

Bolton threatened after the half-hour when David Ngog was denied by Joe Hart, who then produced a fine fingertip save to keep out Ryo Miyaichi's shot.

But it was City back on the attack as Bogdan saved from Kolo Toure and Balotelli, who spurned another gilt-edged chance in the 46th minute when clean through.

City's tempo dropped but they almost benefited from a second own goal as Darren Pratley hit his own crossbar in trying to dispossess Edin Dzeko.

Balotelli at last got on the scoresheet to seal the win 21 minutes from time, the striker netting following good work by Adam Johnson.

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