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Saturday, 1 January 2011
LIVERPOOL 2-1 BOLTON MATCH REPORT
Well after Wednesday's loss to Wolves this made this our biggest game of the season, with Hodgson under severe pressure and so much speculation about Roy's future this had to be win at all costs. So much of Liverpool's season resting on the result of this match. Bolton coming into this match on great form and very unlucky to lose at Chelsea on Wednesday. I was fearing the worst against Bolton as we looked like a team with no confidence against Wolves.
Hodgson made a few changes for this game which came as no surprise, it was a surprise to see Gerrard not starting although I believe he was suffering from cramping on Wednesday night. I was pleased to see Agger and Aurelio coming in, and good to see Meireles coming back into the middle and Maxi coming back into the left side of the team where he should have been on Wednesday night. Kuyt back in his more familiar role on the right. The rest of the team as expected.
With Liverpool's obvious lack of confidence the match started off in very cagey fashion with Bolton happy to settle into the game and Liverpool looking very nervy and unsure of their mission. Torres gave the ball away so often in the early stages as he struggles to find his form. Not much happened till around 20 minutes in to the match when Torres managed to find Maxi at the back post whose volley across the face of goal was cleared by Matt Taylor. Then Meireles recieved an injury and was replaced by Gerrard giving the crowd and the team a lift. Bolton came close with a Taylor free kick hitting the side netting of Reina's goal. Gerrard made a big difference as he influenced Liverpool's attacks and Liverpool came close when a Kuyt cross was headed back across goal by Maxi hitting the top of the Bolton bar. Then just as Liverpool were starting to shade possession just before half time Bolton took the lead after a rash challenge by Aurelio out on the touchline gave Bolton a free kick, Taylor whipped in a dangerous free kick to the back post which Davies headed past Reina giving Bolton a goal at a great time. Liverpool should have equalised on the stroke of half time when Kuyt lobbed a ball to the back post which found Lucas who slid inside the six yard box only to see his effort go agonisingly wide and see Liverpool go in 1-0 down at half time.
I'm sure some strong words were used in the Liverpool dressing room at the interval and Liverpool got the perfect start to the second half when they equalised in the 49th minute when Gerrard played a delightful pass behind the Bolton defence which Torres volleyed high into the Bolton net and lifted the whole of Anfield. Liverpool almost took the lead three minutes later when Torres cut in from the left and hit a shot just wide of the Bolton woodwork. Liverpool were a different team after scoring and Gerrard instrumental as Liverpool pushed for a winner. Both Maxi and Gerrard were both denied in the same attack by Jaaskelainen whose rebound hit the arm of Mark Davies as he was on the ground resulting in huge appeals for a penalty from the Liverpool players which were waved away by the referee. As Liverpool kept up the pressure they came close when N'Gog had a shot blocked then Torres volleyed a clever cross from Gerrard just wide of the front post. But Bolton had the odd venture forward and Mark Davies hit a rocket straight at Reina. N'gog made way for Cole and this proved to be a great substitution as with time running out Joe Cole grabbed the winner in injury time after another dangerous cross by Gerrard to the back post came off Elmander as he challenged Maxi only to see the ball fall to Cole virtually on goal line who gladly knocked in the winner and sending Anfield into ecstacy. Liverpool held on for a great result as Reina made a late save. A great result and a gritty performance from Liverpool.
I was really worried before this game as Wednesday night was just about as bad as it gets. Fair enough the ground was not full but the fans that turned up were tremendous the way they got behind the team all game and really helped the team. There was a far better show of commitment from the players and a growing of confidence as the game went on which was severely lacking on Wednesday night. I thought everybody played well even N'Gog had a better game although I still don't think he is the right partner for Torres. Aurelio played well apart from his poor tackle leading up to the Bolton goal. Gerrard was superb when he came on creating the two goals and he really did drive Liverpool on. I was very impressed with Torres aswell as he has been getting so much criticism for his performances and rumours of him not wanting to play here, but against Bolton he never hid he chased everything early on he could do nothing right as the ball bounced off him and he gave the ball away but the way he kept looking for the ball and his workrate impressed me and I was pleased to see him get his reward with a goal and that made a huge difference to his confidence as the game wore on. How big a goal could that be for Joe Cole too, really pleased for him to come on late in the game and grab such an important, dramatic late winner. Overall a great response from Liverpool and a very important result after the disappointment of midweek.
Man Of The Match - Gerrard I thought Torres was superb aswell but I have to give it to Gerrard the way he drove Liverpool on especially after going behind. Created both Liverpool goals too.