Monday, November 01, 2010

Match Report: Bolton 0 - 1 Liverpool

Maxi Rodriguez struck a late winner at Bolton as relieved Liverpool finally climbed out of the Premier League relegation zone.

The Argentinian latched onto a brilliant Fernando Torres backheel to settle a competitive encounter at the Reebok Stadium four minutes from time.

Both sides created numerous chances in an evenly-matched contest but Liverpool left satisfied knowing their near month-long stay in the bottom three was over.

The match had looked like bringing more frustration for Liverpool and under-pressure boss Roy Hodgson as Sotirios Krygiakos twice went close and Torres squandered a good early opportunity.

The win drew them level on points with Bolton, who had been enjoying their best start for four years and were looking set for a seventh draw of the campaign.

They might even have won it themselves had a late Kevin Davies glancing header fallen the right side of the post.

Hodgson named the same Liverpool team for the third successive Premier League game as he attempted to instil the cohesion they have been lacking.

It initially appeared to work as the Reds, hoping to build on last week's morale-boosting win over Blackburn, started confidently and created two early chances for Torres.

The first came after three minutes as Steven Gerrard swung in a corner but Torres could not keep his header on target.

His next chance came just five minutes later but, despite netting last week's winner, the Spaniard still showed signs of the rustiness that has hampered him all season.

Torres raced through on goal from a Gerrard pass but delayed a shot and then mis-kicked as he attempted to stab past Jussi Jaaskelainen from close range.

Bolton's first attempt on goal came when Stuart Holden blasted a free-kick at the wall from 25 yards.

After that Bolton gave as good as they got and Jose Reina parried a vicious Holden volley from distance after the US international was teed up by Davies.

The hosts appealed for a penalty as Lee Chung-yong cut inside from the left and went down under a challenge from Jamie Carragher but referee Martin Atkinson played on to few complaints.

Liverpool attacked back but Cole scooped a long-range effort well over the bar and Gerrard did likewise from a free-kick.

Fabrice Muamba shot from long range for Bolton but his effort curved well away from goal.

Torres set up Gerrard but the Reds skipper drove wide from the edge of the box.

Taylor tested Reina with two free-kicks just before the break but the Spaniard managed to smother both attempts and Carragher survived another penalty appeal after the faintest of touches with the hand.

Krygiakos, goalscorer in two of the previous three league games, forced Jaaskelainen to save from a Gerrard cross in injury time.

Bolton made the early running in the second half and twice forced Liverpool to clear unconvincingly without creating a clear-cut chance.

Gerrard tried to raise Liverpool's fading tempo with a powerful run and long ball for Torres, but a promising attack was ended as Muamba collided with Lucas.

Gerrard found good space on the edge of the box but his shot was deflected into the air and claimed easily by Jaaskelainen.

Liverpool suffered a blow just after the hour as Cole was forced off with what looked like a hamstring injury and was replaced by David Ngog.

Krygiakos again went close when Gerrard picked him out from a corner but this time headed narrowly over.

Krygiakos was then involved at the other end after bundling into Davies but Atkinson deemed the Bolton captain to have gone down too easily.

Liverpool might have been struggling to produce the intensity their fans demanded but pieced together a move of genuine quality as Rodriguez finally got into the game midway through the second half.

Rodriguez sent Gerrard away down the left with a clever backheel and the captain whipped in a cross for Torres.

Torres nodded back down for Rodriguez to attempt a spectacular overhead kick which went just inches over. Bolton replied as in-form Johan Elmander, looking for his first home goal of the season after hitting five away, showed great control and drove just wide of the post.

Zat Knight then headed over from the resulting corner and Davies also glanced a header wide from a free-kick as the Trotters enjoyed a strong spell.

But Liverpool roused themselves late on and carved Bolton open with a delightful move to set up the winner for Rodriguez.

Torres was the creator as he nutmegged Gary Cahill with a clever backheel and Rodriguez raced through.

The Argentinian showed great composure as he clipped the ball in off the body of Jaaskelainen.

Roy Hodgson Hails Liverpool FC’s Gritty Defence After Win Over Bolton Wanderers

Roy Hodgson hailed Liverpool’s “gritty” defence and hopes victory against Bolton Wanderers can prove a springboard for his team’s season.

A Maxi Rodriguez strike four minutes from time earned a 1-0 win at the Reebok Stadium and moved Hodgson’s side out of the relegation zone into 12th place.

It was only Liverpool’s third clean sheet in the Premier League this season but followed an impressive shut-out at Napoli 10 days earlier in the Europa League.

And Hodgson said: “We hope it’s a springboard. We have had three very good results now, including the Napoli one.

“We have defended so much better in the three games. I know that we will score goals but at the moment we aren’t. I suppose I could be criticized for making bold statements such as that but I do believe we will score goals with Torres, Gerrard, Kuyt, Rodriguez and Meireles, along with Soto (Kyrgiakos) coming up from the back.

“One of things that concerned me was that we were leaking goals, and it wasn’t good that we had to score two or three to get a result.

“We have had two good cleans sheets against Bolton and Napoli away from home.

“It was a very gritty performance, especially from the back four. It’s never easy to play against Bolton, they have a very well-honed style of play based on getting it into the box from all areas with two front men strong in the air.

“You have to be well organized and have players who can deal with the situation.”

Liverpool wasted a number of promising attacks until Fernando Torres found Rodriguez inside the area with a clever backheel and the Argentine netted only his second goal for the club.

“We had such a lot of the ball and a lot of situations where I thought we had a good opportunity to put ourselves in to a good goalscoring opportunity, but it never quite came off,” said Hodgson. “Luckily, one more came up and we made the most of it.

“If we’d had a better start to the season we would have had that little bit more composure to make use of those situations.

“When you don’t do that, you worry one of the long balls or long throws is going to bounce kindly for the opposition and you lose.”

Hodgson also hailed the contribution of David Ngog, who gave Liverpool’s attack another dimension after replacing the injured Joe Cole during the second half.

“He is getting better and better,” said the manager. “He works hard at his game and in training he is trying to do some of the things we are asking.

“He did contribute late on, especially as Fernando was tiring at that time. He is a young player and one we think has got potential but when you are at a big club like Liverpool, people aren’t too forgiving when you don’t show that straight away.”

Jamie Carragher Delighted To Move Out Of The Bottom Three

Jamie Carragher has expressed his relief at moving out of the relegation zone following Liverpool's 1-0 win at Bolton Wanderers.

The narrow victory was secured by Maxi Rodriguez's strike in the 86th minute and will lift pressure off Roy Hodgson, who has steered his side to their second consecutive win under his stewardship.

And Carragher believes the Reds can now climb up the table after the close fought encounter inside the Reebok Stadium.

"It is just nice to get out of that bottom three, we've been there [the relegation zone] for a while," Carragher told Sky Sports.

"Now we can look to move up the table. Not sure where that [three points] will take us, I'm sure it will look a lot better.

"We have to go on a run ourselves, we know we have not had a great start but with the league being so tight, a few wins can move us up the table."

Carragher conceded it was not the best performance from his side, with Bolton coming close to equalising through Kevin Davies late on, but the defender hopes victory will give Liverpool the confidence they have been missing this season.

"We all know winning breeds confidence, it was a tough game but not the best performance but we played very well last week and not so well this week.

"We dug in and these are the games this season we have actually been losing so it is nice to win one of them," he added.

Late Defeat Stings Coyle

Bolton boss Owen Coyle conceded he felt his side were unfortunate to fall to a late defeat to Liverpool at the Reebok on Sunday.

A game that was shy of genuine chances throughout the 90 minutes was settled four minutes from time when Maxi Rodriguez stabbed home from Fernando Torres' flick.

Bolton matched their North West neighbours in what was a closely fought contest, with Coyle of the opinion his side deserved at least a share of the spoils.

"I don't think we deserved to lose the game," he told Sky Sports 1. "Late in the game Liverpool have scored a very good goal from their point of view, but having said that, we've had opportunities before that.

"I felt the application and the effort of the players was first class. I thought we dominated the game for large periods without having too many clear-cut opportunities."

Coyle felt his side were unlucky not to be awarded a penalty after Jamie Carragher survived an appeal after the faintest of touches with the hand in the first half, and striker Kevin Davies went down under a heavy challenge from Sotirios Krygiakos after the interval.

"I thought we had a penalty in the first half with a clear hand ball from Carragher, possibly a penalty in the second half for the push on Kevin Davies," he added.

"These are the margins in the Barclays Premier League that you have to come out on the right side of, and unfortunately for us it's a cruel ending."

Joe Cole Injury Update

Roy Hodgson is waiting to discover the extent of Joe Cole's injury with the England international set to have a scan on his hamstring on Monday.

Liverpool's No.10 was forced off the field during the 1-0 win over Bolton Wanderers and the Reds boss is hoping the scan will be a positive outcome.

"Joe has a slight hamstring injury so he will have a scan on Monday," said Hodgson.

"Hopefully he will be ok but I can't say how long he will be out until we get the results of the scan.

"Often these muscle injuries always seem to take ten days to two weeks, but I know Joe will be keen to be fit for Chelsea next weekend. We'll have to wait and see."

Roy To Launch £9m N'Zogbia Bid

Liverpool gaffer Roy Hodgson plans a £9million transfer window move for Wigan's Charles N'Zogbia.

He has been in stunning form since turning down a summer move to Birmingham City.

Hodgson and talent-spotter Kenny Dalglish watched French wing wizard N'Zogbia (above) in top form against Bolton last weekend when they went to see him and run the rule over today's opponents.

The Anfield pair saw enough to send three of their top scouts, including number one Eduardo Macia, to check him out in midweek - only for N'Zogbia to be restricted to a brief appearance as a sub in the Carling Cup.

Wigan could be tempted to sell, with the player ambitious for a top club and Marseille also showing an interest.

Hodgson hopes to do business in the New Year market and a pacy wide man is his missing link. None of his captures have filled that bill and Ryan Babel looks a likely departure to clear the way.

Wigan boss Roberto Martinez wants to hold on to his best players but he and chairman Dave Whelan may allow a sale to strengthen the Latics squad with the cash.

Martinez admits he would like to bring in fresh faces for the second half of the season.

Hodgson Targets Big Haul

Roy Hodgson is looking to bring 'five or six' players to Liverpool in January, including a new striker.

The Reds have endured their worst ever start to a Premier League season this campaign, leaving them languishing in the relegation zone having collected just nine points.

Manager Hodgson hopes to combat his side's poor form by heavily bolstering his squad in the upcoming transfer window, starting with his front line.

"We are going to be very interested in improving our squad in January," Hodgson said in the Daily Star.

"I'm prepared to accept that a number of players we're looking to sign do make five or six - but I don't wish to specify positions other than one is obviously a front player.

"In January we should be really looking to solve one or two situations. We are desperately short of players. Front players.

"Having three front players at the club, and that's if you include Ryan Babel, is nowhere near good enough.

"If Fernando (Torres) isn't playing one week, you have got to get someone in who has got the same level of quality."