Manchester City asserted its position at the top of the Premier League summit with a dominant 2-0 victory over struggling Bolton Wanderers at the Etihad Stadium.
Goals from Gael Clichy and Mario Balotelli either side of the break proved the difference in a game that could easily have easily ended in a rout for Owen Coyle’s men as the hosts spurned a plethora of chances – over 20 of them overall.
City’s pressure finally paid off when Gael Clichy’s long-range effort took a fortuitous deflection off the head of Gretar Steinsson to beat an unfortunate Adam Bogdan at his near post. Balotelli added to the lead in the 70th minute when Adam Johnson skipped through a number of challenging defenders in the penalty box to set up the Italian forward with a tap-in goal.
The victory meant Roberto Mancini’s men extended their home winning run to an impressive 19 games, equaling the record set by rivals and fellow title challenges Manchester United last October.
For Bolton, a fourth successive loss for the third time this season continued a miserable run that sees it remain one place above rock-bottom of the table courtesy of goal difference.
Balotelli returned to spearhead City’s attack in a lone striker role, as top-scorer Sergio Aguero dropped to the bench.
For the visitors, Mark Davies and Gretar Steinnson returned from respective injuries to start alongside Japanese midfielder Ryo Miyaichi.
City started on fire and Balotelli rattled the post with only two minutes on the clock after running onto Yaya Toure’s defense splitting through-ball.
The hosts continued to expose the flaws in their visitors' brittle defense and the lively Balotelli failed to break the deadlock once again when he eventually skied over after failing to make the most of a hopeful long-ball that set him free in acres of space.
After Johnson and Balotelli had wasted further opportunities to increase the lead, Bolton briefly responded.
The club conjured its first noteworthy chance just after the half-hour mark when David N’Gog forced Joe Hart into a routine save, before Kimi Myachi came even when his sweeping right foot effort drew a magnificent outstretched save from the England stopper.
Bogdan kept Bolton in the game on the stroke of halftime when he saved well from Balotelli, as City took a slender lead into the interval.
The one-way traffic continued after the break as Bogdan brilliantly denied Balotelli yet again after Gareth Barry split the Bolton defense for the umpteenth time.
Yaya Toure powered narrowly wide from outside the box on the hour mark soon later as tried in vain to find the all-decisive second goal.
Darren Pratley nearly scored a spectacular own goal moments later when he scooped the ball onto the crossbar with Bogdan beaten following a challenge with Edin Dzeko on the edge of the box.
City travels to Sporting on Thursday for the club's Europa League tie with its confidence high.
Bolton on the other hand, will return to the drawing board once again and Owen Coyle will be wondering where the club's next points will come from.