Torres also on target as Reds come from behind at Anfield
Liverpool left it late to beat Bolton Wanderers and claim all three points, yet a promising attacking display from Roy Hodgson’s men saw the fans singing again following their midweek defeat to Wolverhampton Wanderers.
The Reds responded in traditional fashion to their critics, and goals from Fernando Torres and Joe Cole helped Liverpool to a late victory following two straight league defeats.
Bolton took the lead just before the break thanks to a piece of shocking defending from Liverpool’s back four, as they failed to deal with Kevin Davies strength, who powered Matt Taylor’s cross past a clueless Reina.
Liverpool grabbed one back shortly after the break with a beautiful finish from Torres, after latching onto Gerrard’s lovely lofted cross.
Joe Cole claimed his first Premier League goal in stoppage time after yet another dangerous Gerrard cross was whipped into the area, where Maxi beat Elmander and headed down past Jaaskelainen for Cole to poke into an empty net.
Speculation surrounded Anfield at the start of the game as Roy Hodgson’s position as manager was in doubt, as Liverpool supporters started-up a petition to remove the former Fulham boss from his post on Merseyside.
Liverpool started without skipper Steven Gerrard, who featured on the bench alongside Joe Cole who picked up an ankle niggle in training yesterday. Roy Hodgson told reporters on Friday that the captain was "extremely tired" after Liverpool’s 1-0 defeat to Wolverhampton Wanderers at Anfield.
Liverpool went into the game having beaten Bolton on the past eight consecutive occasions, ever more the reason for Hodgson’s side to perform.
Bolton started the game positively, despite being without in-form winger Chung-Yong Lee – who is currently away on international duty participating in the Asian Cup.
David Ngog got Liverpool going after nudging Kevin Davies off the ball and threaded striker Fernando Torres down the right flank, who was pushed off the ball by Zat Knight and awarded a rightful free-kick. Indeed Knight was lucky not to be shown a yellow card from the referee.
A positive quarter saw Liverpool push up the field with Raul Meireles threading Glen Johnson through on the right-wing and into the box to provide a decent low-cross for Torres, but he was correctly deemed offside by the assistant.
Liverpool were on the attack again with Glen Johnson yet again steaming down the right-wing, and provided another low cross for Torres in the box. The Spaniard held it up well against six Bolton players, managing to find Maxi Rodriguez with a high loft on the left post, who fired across the goal and saw it cleared off the line and away for a throw.
Raul Meireles went down clutching his ankle on the 17th minute, and was replaced by Gerrard right before Matt Taylor hovered a free-kick around the wall and inches wide from Pepe Reina’s post, a decent effort but it failed to test the 'keeper.
Flying Dutchman | Dirk Kuyt slides into a challenge with Mark Davies at Anfield
Gerrard’s influence almost seemed to have shook Owen Coyle’s side, who gave possession away four times in the space of a couple of minutes, inviting Liverpool into the game.
Liverpool gained two corners within 60 seconds, with Dirk Kuyt latching onto Gerrard’s cross yet failed to test Jussi Jaaskelainen as his header fell right into the Finn’s hands.
Maxi Rodriguez came the closest to opening the scoring for the Reds as he connected well with Kuyt’s cross from the right, and headed the ball over Jaaskelainen and onto the crossbar.
Fernando Torres looked lively as he continually pushed forward and threatened Bolton’s back four, but looked out of touch – tripping over and failing to control long balls.
A very poor piece of defending saw Liverpool go behind and concede only their second goal in their past four league games at Anfield. Aurelio initially fouled Taylor but managed to whip in a standard cross, finding a free Kevin Davies, who powered in a header from close range past a helpless Reina.
Liverpool very nearly pulled one back a minute from the break after Torres and Kuyt combined nicely on the left, before the Dutchman crossed a delivery into Lucas at the back-post, only for the Brazilian to fire a point-blank shot wide – adding further woes to Roy Hodgson’s growing list.
The fans rightfully booed off a mixed Liverpool performance at the break, as they failed to deliver in both attack and defence.
Liverpool had an awful start after resuming from the break as the defence again failed to deal with Kevin Davies, who came close to adding a second to his account.
Hodgson’s side quickly recovered and replied the best they could with a goal. A lovely build-up from Liverpool saw skipper Steven Gerrard dink a lovely ball right into Torres’s path, who caressed it sweetly on the volley past Jaaskelainen into the top corner.
Torres was at it again, this time from the left, and cut in sweetly from the flank only to fire a low curling shot just wide of the post. That goal looked to have rejuvenated the 26-year-old, as he won yet another free-kick after Cahill fouled him on the right wing.
Bolton started well but seemed to sit on the back foot after conceding, and really failed to push forward past the Liverpool midfield. Davies managed to find Taylor on the right, who topsy-turveyed past Johnson and struck a low shot just wide of Reina’s right post.
On balance Liverpool looked the most likely team to score in the second half with Kuyt, Maxi and Gerrard all combining to try and feed a hungry Spaniard.
The Reds skipper was again involved in building up yet another Liverpool chance, whipping in a decent ball into Torres who fired on the volley just wide of Jaaskalainen’s post.
Zat Knight had a decent game at Anfield, using his height well to his advantage to deny multiple crosses from the flanks and clear safely.
On the other side of the pitch Glen Johnson provided a vital tackle to convert the possession back to Liverpool’s favour, yet careless passing reverted to Kevin Davies firing a stinging strike for Reina to clasp and catch on his second attempt.
Joe Cole replaced Ngog for the final 10 minutes and had a direct impact, scoring a vital winner in stoppage time to secure a deserved three points for the Merseyside team and relieve some of the pressure off Hodgson with a precious victory.
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