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06 June 2023

Vieira, Johnson make strong debut

Carlos Tevez scoring the opening goal from the penalty spot during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester City and Bolton Wanderers at the City of Manchester Stadium. (GETTY IMAGES)


Roberto Mancini paid tribute to two players at either ends of their careers after Manchester City boosted their bid for a fourth-place finish in the Premier League with a 2-0 victory over Bolton.

Carlos Tevez, from the penalty spot, and Emmanuel Adebayor scored the goals that secured the three points at Eastlands on Tuesday, but City also enjoyed terrific performances from two full debutants.

England under-21 winger Adam Johnson, 22, proved unstoppable for long spells of the game and won the penalty from which Tevez gave City the lead.

France international Patrick Vieira also made his full debut for the wealthy club and turned in an impressive display including a superb pass that set up the second goal.

"He played very well, that's why I bought him," said Mancini of Johnson, signed from Middlesbrough during the January transfer window.

"When you're a young player you want to play well and have a chance and that's why this game was important for him. He did well for the penalty and went on from there.

"He can learn to play behind the striker, on the right wing, on the left wing, he can play in different positions, different situations and be an important player for us.

"I am happy for Patrick because that was his first full game in one month and he came through without a problem. I know Patrick well and I know he can play better but for now, it was just important he came through alright.

"People talk about his age, but I played until I was 36 and I played very well! When I was 36, I won the Scudetto and the Italian Cup. I hope Patrick can play the next 15 games for me."

Victory keeps City slightly ahead of three other clubs chasing fourth place, and the coveted final spot in next season's Champions League, if only by virtue of having games in hand on their rivals.

Like City, Liverpool, Aston Villa and Tottenham have all failed to hit real consistency.

Mancini concedes that once this weekend's FA Cup commitments are out of the way, his team must focus on stringing together a good run of league results.

"It is important that we are now in fourth position," said Mancini. "We have a big game in hand at Stoke next Tuesday and we must win that game if we want to finish fourth. We are in a good position now, and have games in hand, but we must keep improving."

The concerns of Bolton manager Owen Coyle are centred firmly on the other end of the table with his team having won just one of their six games since he took command.

"I'm delighted with the performance but disappointed we didn't get any points," said Coyle.

"We have come to a club that cost £300 million [Dh1.72 billion] to build, we were away from home, and for a long duration of the match we made them look very ordinary.

"Now, after the cup tie on Saturday, we have six games against teams around us and if we collect points from those, I am confident we will be fine."


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