Home » EPL, Latest » Match Report: Bolton 3 Liverpool 1

Liverpool’s season of one step forward and two back continued at the Reebok Stadium as Bolton put their horrendous home form behind them to record a comprehensive victory against Kenny Dalglish’s side.

With £35 million Andy Carroll once more failing to find the net, and a former Anfield striker David Ngog influential for the hosts, Mark Davies and Nigel Reo-Coker put Bolton well in control before Craig Bellamy reduced the deficit – only for it to be restored early in the second half by Bolton defender Gretar Steinsson.

Newcastle’s defeat at Fulham, along with the inactivity of Arsenal, had afforded Liverpool the chance to leap two places in the table and, more relevantly, arrest an alarming run that had seen them collect just one victory, and six points, from their previous five league games.

Even with an eye on this week’s Carling Cup semi-final second leg with Manchester City, the visitors must have entertained high hopes of continuing a sequence of 10 consecutive league victories against their opponents. None of which, of course, took into account the vagaries of this season or Liverpool’s surprising inability to cope with a committed and energetic opening from a Bolton team whose recent mini-recovery has injected some much-needed self-belief into their ranks.

After three minutes, Chris Eagles’ short pass inside was helped into the path of Mark Davies by a touch from Ngog, allowing the midfielder to surge forward, Martin Skrtel snapping haplessly at his heels, before placing a finish past Pepe Reina.

A mistake by left-back Jose Enrique almost made it worse. Eagles did well to dispossess him and showed great pose and strength in working into the area where his low cross missed two team-mates and might even have been turned in by Glen Johnson.

Liverpool’s response was initiated by Craig Bellamy, via a couple of darting runs and crosses which were ably dealt with by the home defence. He was also presented with an early shooting opportunity, thanks to the approach play of Steven Gerrard and Maxi Rodriguez, only to see his shot charged down.

However, Liverpool were left with an even stiffer challenge just before the half-hour mark when they were on the receiving end of one of those moments that so often proves pivotal. First, they failed in a strong penalty appeal as Zat Knight seemed to handle and, within moments, found themselves a further goal behind as Bolton broke down the other end of the field with Ngog and Eagles exchanging pass before the latter lifted through the perfect through ball. With Liverpool’s defending less than stellar, Reo-Coker controlled the ball well on his chest before chipping the ball neatly over the advancing Reina.

Finally, after 36 minutes Liverpool hit back. Bogdan’s long clearance upfield was returned via the heads of Agger and Carroll, permitting Bellamy to sprint clear of two defenders and convert from a dozen yards, via a touch from the Bolton keeper.

Bolton might have restored their two-goal cushion on the stroke of half-time, courtesy of Martin Petrov’s curling 20-yard free-kick awarded for a foul on Ngog, but Reina did well to parry the ball, diving to his right.

A growing tension in the game manifested itself at the break when a long-running feud between Bellamy and Reo-Coker ended with the pair being pulled apart by Knight on their way down the tunnel. Nor did the tempo of on-field matters lessen after the restart, as Charlie Adam emerged from a midfield tangle with the ball and powered into the Bolton area where his shot was blocked by Gretar Steinsson.

Bolton responded swiftly, however, and a nervous Agger back pass almost played Reina into trouble and maintained the pressure on Liverpool, pressure from which the home side was able to take a further grip on the game in the 50th minute.

Petrov’s left-wing corner was met at the far post by Wheater with a firm header back across goal and there was Steinsson who, with no defender near him, scored his first goal of the season, with a firm and precise shot into the goal from around the penalty spot.

Bellamy, Maxi and Carroll combined in one of a number of promising Liverpool attacks but it was not until Adam whipped over a dangerous left-wing cross, forcing Bogdan into a solid piece of handling, that they could turn possession into a real threat or moment of genuine concern for the Bolton goalkeeper.

Liverpool maintained the pressure but without any real conviction. Bellamy’s threatening cross was put behind by Knight, Carroll skied a half-chance over and Agger, from all of 30 yards, chanced his arm and saw his shot clip the cross-bar and fly onwards.

Bellamy tried to launch a late comeback by running half the length of the field and delivering a 20-yard shot which, given the ensuing deflection, Bogdan dealt with impressively. But Bolton were just as likely to add to their tally as the game opened up and Eagles twice came close with shots from the edge of the area.

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