Sunday, January 2, 2011

Liverpool 2 - 1 Bolton

Joe Cole came off the bench to score a contested late winner as Liverpool fought back from a goal down to seal a much-needed win over Bolton at Anfield.
Under-fire Reds boss Roy Hodgson cut a dejected figure as Kevin Davies headed Bolton in front just before half-time.
Liverpool replied shortly after the break when Fernando Torres volleyed home from Steven Gerrard's pass.
Cole was introduced on 82 minutes and tapped in at the death from what seemed an offside position to grab the points.
The result sees Liverpool pull six points clear of the relegation zone, rising from 12th to ninth, while Bolton drop to seventh.
It was a dramatic end to a tense encounter and although Bolton may complain bitterly about Cole's strike, Liverpool are sure to toast a crucial three points.
Hodgson's men came into the match under huge pressure following Wednesday's shock defeat by Wolves.
That left the Reds perilously close to the bottom three and confirmed they would enter 2011 on their lowest points tally since the 1953/54 season, which ended in relegation.
The home fans turned on the manager during the Wolves loss and reports on Saturday suggested the Anfield hierarchy were already considering replacements should they decide to sack the 63-year-old.
All of this surely made the game an absolute must-win for Liverpool and, having won 10 of their previous 11 home Premier League meetings with Bolton, the omens were good.
Captain Gerrard dropped to the bench after playing 90 minutes in midweek following six weeks out with a calf injury, but his side got off to an encouraging start - Torres looking particularly lively.
And the Spaniard was at the heart of a move that saw Liverpool threaten to open the scoring, his shot deflecting to the back post where Maxi Rodriguez volleyed across goal and Matt Taylor slid in to avert the danger.
As the half wore on, there was a distinct sense of nervousness around the ground and Bolton, who travelled with a squad of only 15 players, slowly began to grow in confidence.
An injury to Raul Meireles meant Gerrard was introduced on 21 minutes but it was the visitors who appeared more likely to break the deadlock, with Taylor curling a free-kick narrowly wide from 25 yards and Zat Knight heading wide from Johan Elmander's cross.
There seemed a greater urgency about Liverpool with Gerrard on the pitch and they were denied by the woodwork when a Maxi header from Dirk Kuyt's right-wing centre looped on to the crossbar.
Yet Bolton were holding out fairly comfortably and their day got a whole lot better when Kevin Davies pounced shortly before half-time for the Trotters' first goal at Anfield since 2003.
Fabio Aurelio, starting his first league match this season in place of Paul Konchesky, fouled Rodrigo Moreno on the Bolton right and Davies muscled his way ahead of Glen Johnson to power home Taylor's inviting free-kick.
It was a goal that drew anger from the terraces but Liverpool should have been level within a couple of minutes, with Leiva Lucas prodding wide from a Kuyt cross when it looked harder to miss than score.
Fortunately for the hosts, an equaliser was forthcoming just after the break.
David Ngog laid Johnson's chipped pass to Gerrard, who floated a delightful ball over the top for Torres to expertly volley past Jussi Jaaskelainen and send the Kop into raptures.
Liverpool now had the wind in their sails and Torres came close to giving his side the lead. The Spaniard was released by Gerrard and cut in from the left before fizzing a low effort narrowly wide of the far post.
Jaaskelainen then stood tall to deny Gerrard and although the rebound appeared to strike Mark Davies on the arm, referee Kevin Friend waved away Liverpool's appeals for a penalty.
Liverpool continued to probe and Torres volleyed wide from another accurate Gerrard cross, while at the other end Mark Davies shot powerfully at Pepe Reina in a rare Bolton attack.
But the pressure finally told as Gerrard's deep cross from the right was bundled towards goal by Maxi and Cole tapped in for his first league goal since joining Liverpool from Chelsea last summer.
Bolton's protests came to nothing and despite pushing for an even later equaliser - Reina saving well from substitute Ivan Klasnic - their efforts came to nothing.

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