Mario Balotelli scored as Manchester City pulled five points clear of Manchester United at the top of the Premier League by beating Bolton.
The Italian had already hit the post when Gael Clichy's angled shot struck Gretar Steinsson on its way in to open the scoring in a flowing first half.
Joe Hart saved well from Bolton's Ryo Miyaichi before Balotelli tucked home from Adam Johnson's backheeled pass.
Darren Pratley also came close to a bizarre own goal when he hit the bar.
Before Balotelli's victory-sealing strike, Pratley dispossessed substitute Edin Dzeko before firing the ball against his own crossbar from 25 yards.
And it sparked City's second-half showing into life after they failed to match a stellar opening period in which they could have been three goals up in the first five minutes.
Once Balotelli had marked a return to form with his 14th goal of the season, City boss Roberto Mancini - who had rested the likes of David Silva and Sergio Aguero - could breathe more easily.
The victory was City's 19th consecutive home win in the Premier League, equalling a record set by title rivals Manchester United last October.
At the other end of the table, Bolton slipped two points behind their nearest relegation rivals after Blackburn and QPR both drew.
The Trotters remain 19th, level on points with bottom side Wigan, but they did cause problems for Mancini's men at times and must hope that translates into points when QPR visit next weekend in a crucial relegation clash.
Here, they had cause to be thankful to their keeper Adam Bogdan, who had a ongoing battle with an on-song Balotelli throughout the game and also saved Samir Nasri's early follow-up after Balotelli had hit the post.
The Italian also dragged a shot wide from a Johnson cutback and had a penalty appeal turned down on another occasion after Zat Knight appeared to drag him to the ground.
With Silva, Aguero and Dzeko on the bench for City, January signing David Pizarro made his first start for the club, easily slotting into the midfield and dictating much of City's rhythm early on.
But for all City's class, when the first goal came it was from an unlikely source and had a touch of fortune as Clichy's shot nicked Steinsson before finding the net.
Bolton might have caved in but the probing Nigel Reo-Coker ensured they posed a threat at the other end, and David Ngog drew a near-post save from Hart before the England keeper expertly tipped Arsenal loanee Miyaichi's shot round the post following a slip by Kolo Toure.
The Japanese forward, playing on the left of a five-man midfield, was Bolton's most dangerous outlet - but Bogdan remained the visitors' key man as he once again denied Balotelli after the break.
With the contest becoming more even, Mancini sent on Dzeko in place of Pizarro but, after Pratley's near-miss, it was Balotelli who finally got on the scoresheet to make the game safe.
Johnson dribbled past Sam Ricketts and Knight, before backheeling for Balotelli to turn the ball in from close range.
After the game, Mancini said he would speak to Balotelli before deciding whether to hand him a fine for breaking a club curfew on a night out that reportedly extended into the early hours of Friday morning.
- 25 Hart
- 04 Kompany
- 05 Zabaleta (K Toure - 19' )
- 06 Lescott
- 22 Clichy
- 08 Pizarro (Dzeko - 61' )
- 11 Johnson
- 18 Barry
- 19 Nasri (Milner - 84' )
- 42 Y Toure
- 45 Balotelli
- 30 Pantilimon
- 13 Kolarov
- 28 K Toure
- 07 Milner
- 21 Silva
- 10 Dzeko
- 16 Aguero
- 01 Bogdan
- 02 Steinsson
- 12 Knight
- 18 Ricketts
- 31 Wheater
- 32 Ream
- 16 M Davies
- 19 Reo-Coker
- 21 Pratley (Muamba - 87' )
- 24 Ngog
- 30 Miyaichi
- 22 Jaaskelainen
- 04 Robinson
- 06 Muamba
- 07 Eagles
- 10 Petrov
- 17 Klasnic
- 29 Sordell
Live Text Commentary
Full Time The referee brings the game to a close.90:00 +1:55
Effort from inside the area by David Ngog misses to the left of the goal.90:00 +1:26
Gareth Barry challenges David Ngog unfairly and gives away a free kick. Samuel Ricketts takes the free kick.89:43
Corner from the right by-line taken by Adam Johnson, save by Adam Bogdan.86:23 Substitution
Substitution (Bolton) makes a substitution, with Fabrice Muamba coming on for Darren Pratley.83:28
Samuel Ricketts takes the free kick.83:28 Substitution
Substitution James Milner replaces Samir Nasri.83:28
Vincent Kompany gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on David Ngog.78:27
Samir Nasri takes a shot. Tim Ream gets a block in.76:08
Corner taken left-footed by Adam Johnson from the right by-line, clearance made by Zat Knight.74:55
Foul by Zat Knight on Edin Dzeko, free kick awarded. Gnegneri Toure Yaya restarts play with the free kick.74:17
Effort on goal by Adam Johnson from deep inside the penalty area misses to the right of the target.70:59
Ryo Miyaichi fouled by Kolo Toure, the ref awards a free kick. Adam Bogdan restarts play with the free kick.68:46
Adam Johnson provided the assist for the goal.68:46 Goal scored
Goal! - Mario Balotelli - Man City 2 - 0 Bolton Mario Balotelli scores a goal from close range to the bottom right corner of the goal. Man City 2-0 Bolton.65:35
Samuel Ricketts fouled by Samir Nasri, the ref awards a free kick. Free kick taken by Adam Bogdan.64:41
David Ngog challenges Gael Clichy unfairly and gives away a free kick. Gael Clichy takes the free kick.63:31
Gnegneri Toure Yaya fouled by Darren Pratley, the ref awards a free kick. Gnegneri Toure Yaya restarts play with the free kick.62:21
Joleon Lescott concedes a free kick for a foul on David Ngog. Gretar Rafn Steinsson takes the free kick.60:58 Substitution
Substitution (Man City) makes a substitution, with Edin Dzeko coming on for David Pizarro.
Shot from just outside the box by Kolo Toure misses to the left of the target.58:23
Vincent Kompany has a headed effort at goal from close in which goes wide left of the goal.57:58
Short corner worked by Adam Johnson.57:22
Darren Pratley gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on David Pizarro. Gareth Barry takes the direct free kick.56:59
Nigel Reo-Coker gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Mario Balotelli. Direct free kick taken by Gnegneri Toure Yaya.54:29
Unfair challenge on David Ngog by David Pizarro results in a free kick. Free kick taken by Samuel Ricketts.52:20
The referee blows for offside against Adam Johnson. Adam Bogdan restarts play with the free kick.51:43
Unfair challenge on Mario Balotelli by Tim Ream results in a free kick. Joleon Lescott restarts play with the free kick.50:14
Foul by Vincent Kompany on David Ngog, free kick awarded. Free kick taken by Samuel Ricketts.49:33
Shot from just outside the box by Gareth Barry misses to the right of the goal.47:39
Corner taken by Ryo Miyaichi, clearance by Mario Balotelli.47:09
Gnegneri Toure Yaya takes a shot. Zat Knight gets a block in.46:04
Gnegneri Toure Yaya takes a shot. Save by Adam Bogdan.45:01
The referee gets the second half started.45:00 +2:02 Half time
Half Time The whistle is blown to end the first half.45:00 +1:08
Gnegneri Toure Yaya produces a right-footed shot from close range which goes wide of the right-hand post.45:00 +0:31
Corner taken by Adam Johnson from the right by-line, clearance made by Zat Knight.45:00 +0:14
Mario Balotelli takes a shot. Adam Bogdan makes a save.44:34
Kolo Toure takes a shot. Save made by Adam Bogdan.43:14
David Pizarro challenges Nigel Reo-Coker unfairly and gives away a free kick. Indirect free kick taken by Nigel Reo-Coker.41:23
Free kick awarded for a foul by Kolo Toure on Ryo Miyaichi. Adam Bogdan restarts play with the free kick.39:46
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Mark Davies by Gael Clichy. Free kick crossed right-footed by Ryo Miyaichi.36:44
Corner from the right by-line taken by Ryo Miyaichi, Header from deep inside the penalty area by Darren Pratley goes harmlessly over the crossbar.36:25
Ryo Miyaichi takes a shot. Joe Hart makes a save.34:17
Mark Davies fouled by Gael Clichy, the ref awards a free kick. Adam Bogdan takes the indirect free kick.33:37
Adam Johnson has a drilled shot. Mario Balotelli gets a block in.33:04
David Ngog takes a shot. Joe Hart makes a save.30:11
Gnegneri Toure Yaya produces a right-footed shot from just outside the penalty box that misses to the left of the goal.29:03
Mario Balotelli has shot on goal from just outside the penalty box which goes wide of the right-hand upright.27:18
Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on David Pizarro by Darren Pratley. Mario Balotelli fires a strike on goal direct from the free kick.26:04
Adam Johnson takes a shot. Save made by Adam Bogdan.24:22
Samuel Ricketts takes a shot. Save by Joe Hart.22:53 Goal scored
Goal! - Gretar Rafn Steinsson - Man City 1 - 0 Bolton Gretar Rafn Steinsson heads into his own net. Man City 1-0 Bolton.22:51
Assist by Gael Clichy.22:49
Gael Clichy takes a shot. Gretar Rafn Steinsson gets a block in.21:16
The referee blows for offside against Samir Nasri. Adam Bogdan restarts play with the free kick.19:01 Substitution
Substitution Kolo Toure on for Pablo Zabaleta.17:11
Corner taken by Ryo Miyaichi from the left by-line, Headed effort from inside the area by David Ngog misses to the right of the target.16:06
David Pizarro fouled by Nigel Reo-Coker, the ref awards a free kick. David Pizarro takes the free kick.15:09
Inswinging corner taken from the right by-line by Adam Johnson, save by Adam Bogdan.13:09
David Ngog produces a drilled left-footed shot from 20 yards. Save by Joe Hart.12:42
Mario Balotelli takes a shot. Save made by Adam Bogdan.12:07
Corner from the left by-line taken by David Pizarro, clearance by David Ngog.11:11
Mario Balotelli produces a right-footed shot from deep inside the penalty area which goes wide of the right-hand post.10:40
Shot from 12 yards from Ryo Miyaichi. Save by Joe Hart.4:53
Inswinging corner taken by David Pizarro.3:51
Effort from inside the area by Mario Balotelli misses to the left of the goal.3:04
Corner taken right-footed by Ryo Miyaichi from the left by-line, save by Joe Hart.2:25
Unfair challenge on David Ngog by Vincent Kompany results in a free kick. Free kick crossed right-footed by Samuel Ricketts, Vincent Kompany manages to make a clearance.2:03
Samir Nasri takes a shot. Save made by Adam Bogdan.1:50
Mario Balotelli produces a drilled right-footed shot from deep inside the area and strikes the post.1:23
Samir Nasri takes a shot. Zat Knight gets a block in.1:19
Free kick awarded for a foul by Gael Clichy on Mark Davies. Gretar Rafn Steinsson takes the free kick.0:00
The match has kicked off.
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