Monday, December 3, 2007

Liverpool 4-0 Bolton

Liverpool climbed to third after beating struggling Bolton at Anfield.
Steven Gerrard created both first-half goals, first sending over a free-kick that was headed in by Sami Hyypia.
After Bolton striker Nicolas Anelka missed an open goal, Gerrard rolled a pass into the path of Fernando Torres who chipped keeper Jussi Jaaskelainen.
The Liverpool captain added a third with a second-half penalty after Abdoulaye Meite fouled Peter Crouch, and Ryan Babel tapped in the fourth.
How Anelka failed to equalise when Bolton were trailing by a single goal, only the Frenchman will know.
The ball landed at Anelka's feet after Pepe Reina and Jamie Carragher collided in trying to clear a Kevin Davies pass, but with the goal at his mercy the former Liverpool striker shot wide.
Had Anelka scored the course of this game might have been different, but Torres' goal a minute before half-time made Bolton's task of taking any points almost impossible.
Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez partnered Torres and Crouch in attack for the first time in the Premier League.
The two have played in the Carling Cup as well as the Champions League, but on the evidence of this game their attacking partnership remains very much a work in progress.
Torres, who received a huge ovation when he was taken off in the second half, completely overshadowed Crouch.
As well as winning the penalty, Crouch did go close in one of Liverpool's early attacks when his goal-bound shot was blocked on the line by Lubomir Michalik, but this was not one of his most effective games.
While Anelka endeared himself to his old club's fans with that awful miss, El-Hadji Diouf earned the opprobrium of the Anfield crowd with a horrendous tackle on Alvaro Arbeloa.
Diouf complained long and hard over the yellow card, but given the way he raked his studs down Arbeloa's leg the Senegalese player was lucky not to be sent off.
It was from a free-kick that Liverpool took the lead, Gerrard whipping over the ball and Hyypia getting the faintest of glances to beat Jaaskelainen with a header.
A minute before the interval Gerrard and Torres combined to punish Anelka's profligacy.
If Gerrard's curling pass to release Torres was exquisite, the Spaniard's finish probably bettered it.
Torres gently lifted the ball over the advancing Jaaskelainen, in a finish reminiscent of Kenny Dalglish's winning goal against Bruges in the European Cup final of 1978.
The second half proved a formality for Liverpool, with Crouch's emphatically taken penalty further extending their lead.
Just before being substituted Torres zigzagged his way past a succession of Bolton defenders, only to then send his shot over the bar.
Dirk Kuyt replaced Torres and the Dutchman played a key role in Liverpool's fourth goal.
Jaaskelainen was unable to hold Kuyt's shot and Babel had the simplest of jobs to roll the ball into the empty net.
Soon after Babel might have had a second goal, but Meite did well to head off the line.
Liverpool are still unbeaten in the Premier League, but their title credentials are likely to be given a more rigorous assessment in a fortnight when Manchester United travel to Anfield.
· Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez:"The team had confidence and you can see that in the number of chances we are creating.
"We're trying to keep the momentum, but we're in a good position, much better than last season.
"The second goal was important as it gave us more space and they had to change their shape."
· Bolton manager Gary Megson:"It was a poor day for us, but we will pick up ourselves up.
"There will be no knee-jerk reaction. Given Nicolas Anelka's status it was a poor miss, but there were many other things that didn't go for us.
"I'm most disappointed about the first goal as we didn't get our best headers on it. You learn from adversity and we'll see how we react to this."
Liverpool: Reina, Arbeloa, Hyypia, Carragher (Hobbs 51), Riise, Benayoun, Gerrard, Lucas, Kewell (Babel 67), Torres (Kuyt 76), Crouch.Subs Not Used: Itandje, Mascherano.
Goals: Hyypia 17, Torres 45, Gerrard 56 pen, Babel 86.

Bolton: Jaaskelainen, Samuel, Meite, Michalik, Gardner, McCann, Campo, Speed, Davies, Anelka, Diouf (Giannakopoulos 66).Subs Not Used: Al Habsi, Wilhelmsson, Teymourian, Alonso.
Booked: Diouf, Campo, Michalik.
Att: 43,270
Ref: Steve Bennett (Kent).

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