Liverpool 2 - 0 Bolton
Liverpool moved a point behind fourth-placed Tottenham with a win over Bolton at Anfield.
Bolton almost went ahead when Sotirios Kyrgiakos cleared a Chung-Yong Lee shot off the Reds goal-line.
But the home side took the lead after Alberto Aquilani nodded an Emiliano Insua cross back across goal and Dirk Kuyt scuffed in a shot.
David Ngog missed a great chance before Insua’s shot deflected in off Kevin Davies to help secure a Reds victory.
The win extended Liverpool’s unbeaten league run to six games and gave them extra satisfaction as Spurs were held to a draw by Birmingham.
Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez had praised his side’s recent defending and, the Merseysiders having recently adopted a back-to-basics approach that had seen them concede just once in their previous five league games.
With a more stable defensive foundation and the need to make the most of their home games as they chase a top-four finish, Benitez fielded a more attacking side against Bolton and it eventually paid dividends.
However, it was the visitors who quickly created the first chance. Tamir Cohen got goal side of Jamie Carragher but, by the time he got his shot off, keeper Pepe Reina had closed down on him and gathered his poked effort.
Liverpool were guilty of too many misplaced passes and, although they saw plenty of the ball, there was a lack of cutting edge to their play as they failed to raise a subdued Anfield.
When the Reds did threaten, Kuyt failed to do enough to get on the end of an inviting Insua cross and was almost immediately punished.
Bolton’s right-sided midfielder Lee picked up the ball on the halfway line and ran at the heart of a back-peddling Reds defence. With Cohen’s run dragging Liverpool’s defenders away, Lee rounded Reina and got a shot in which rugged centre-back Kyrgiakos did well to clear off the line.
Liverpool were looking unconvincing but still took the lead as Kuyt got his third goal in as many Premier League games.
Another dangerous Insua cross was nodded back across goal by Aquilani and, although Kuyt mistimed his shot, the ball still found its way into the Bolton net.
As Bolton pushed forward to try to get back into the game, Liverpool should have extended their lead on a swift counter-attack.
Steven Gerrard’s shot from an Albert Riera cross was fended away by keeper Jussi Jaaskelainen and fell to Ngog, who had a gaping goal in front of him but could only strike his shot into the ground and high off the top of the crossbar.
Jaaskelainen parried away a fierce Gerrard strike before further Liverpool pressure saw Insua’s shot deflect off Davies, wrong-footing the Bolton keeper to extend the home side’s lead.
Liverpool had gained a stanglehold of the game and, after improving following their second goal, could have added more goal as they secured a seventh straight win over Bolton.
Saturday, 30 January 2010
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