Anelka brace downs Blues

Anelka brace gives Birmingham the Blues

Last Updated: 22/12/07 8:54pm

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Anelka: Second-half brace

Anelka: Second-half brace

Sky Bet

Nicolas Anelka helped himself to a second-half brace as Bolton Wanderers saw off Birmingham City 3-0 at The Reebok.

The Trotters had the better of the little first-half action that was on offer, but ended up being frustrated by Alex McLeish's side.

Controversy struck in the 66th minute when Kevin Nolan's close-range effort was ruled out for offside even though Kevin Davies failed to get a touch on El-Hadji Diouf's floated free-kick.

It mattered not at Diouf calmly slotted the home side ahead just two minutes later with a second from Anelka on 77 minutes wrapping up the contest.

Johan Djourou's woeful throw-in was intercepted by Anelka and he rounded Maik Taylor before rolling home for his 100th goal in English football.

There was still time for the French ace to bag a third with virtually the last kick of the game with Birmingham's defence all at sea.

Taylor save

City goalkeeper Taylor was forced into action after little over a minute when he palmed Ivan Campo's curling free-kick from 20 yards round the post following Radhi Jaidi's foul on Anelka.

Bolton were well on top early on and Taylor was forced into a far better parry in the sixth minute when the ball broke to Anelka eight yards out.

Campo's brilliant crossfield ball found Diouf on the left, allowing the Senegalese to cut in and cross for Anelka who should probably have scored but instead hit straight at the Northern Irishman.

The lively Danny Guthrie, on loan from Liverpool, tried his luck with a volley from 20 yards after Kelly's headed clearance dropped temptingly but he skewed his effort tamely off target.

Nolan should perhaps have done better when City failed horribly to clear their lines from a high ball. Anelka's shot was half blocked and the ball spun into the path of the skipper who shot wide at full stretch from a tight angle six yards out.

Birmingham responded when McSheffrey set Sebastian Larsson free, who in turn off-loaded to Cameron Jerome. The striker cut in from the left flank with intent but his mishit effort was wide and harmless from the edge of the area.

Nicky Hunt received the game's first booking from Chris Foy when he clattered into McSheffrey from behind. Jaidi was almost embarrassed when he deflected Kevin Davies' cross towards his own goal, but it struck Taylor and was cleared.

Blues lacklustre

City boss McLeish brought on Kapo for Matt Sadler at half-time in a bid to add some attacking verve to his lacklustre side. Bolton had a dubious claim for a penalty early in the second half when Davies was tugged down - but Megson's men then had a lucky escape.

McSheffrey's curling free-kick from the right was met by a diving Campo at the near post who glanced the ball towards his own net. Luckily for the Spaniard, Jussi Jaaskelainen was able to block and the ball was cleared.

Gavin McCann, wearing a head bandage, then replaced Campo in the heart of the Trotters midfield in the 58th minute. Jaidi joined Hunt in the book in the 65th minute for tugging back Diouf, and from the resulting free-kick Bolton had the ball in the net, only to see it ruled out.

Dismal defending

Bolton did have the lead in the 72nd minute, however, following a defensive howler from Kelly. Anelka did well to break down the left and fire in a low cross from the byline, but Kelly should have cleared the bobbling ball with ease.

Instead, he miskicked completely, allowing Diouf to collect at the far post, turn inside the full-back and fire into the corner of the net.

It was two six minutes later after more comic defending. This time Djourou was the guilty party as his throw-in back to Taylor sold his keeper short, allowing Anelka to steal in, go around the stranded stopper and tap home from an acute angle.

Kapo then had Blues' best chance of the game when the ball broke for him on the edge of the area. He dribbled around Jaaskelainen but a combination of O'Brien and Hunt were able to clear his shot on the line.

Anelka was then gifted a third in injury-time after Blues gave the ball away in midfield. Nolan casually played in the Frenchman who fired home confidently.

Bolton WanderersTeam StatisticsBirmingham City
01st Half Goals0
5Shots on Target0
5Shots off Target3
1Blocked Shots3
2Yellow Cards2
0Red Cards0
67.3Passing Success66.7
84.6Tackles Success70.6
58.3Territorial Advantage41.7

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