Match Report: Liverpool 3-0 Bolton - A view from the armchair.
Posted by The Bill Hicks Appreciation Society on December 26, 2008, 08:35:44 PM
After Manchester United and Chelsea both picked up maximum points today it was essential that we kept up the pace, with Mascherano missing at Arsenal with Flu last week the smart money was on him reclaiming his starting berth this afternoon, Bolton having won 3 of their last 5 matches since meeting us earlier in the season.
One change for the trotters from the one that won against Pompey was Fabrice Muamba replacing Kevin Davies. Rafael Benitez took his place alongside Parry in the stands, complete with headset, keeping him in touch with his number 2, Sammy Lee, in the dug out.
The game began a bit rocky after Kevin Nolan, finding space on the right put a dangerous cross into the box aiming for an unmarked Gardner only for Pepe to snatch the ball out of the sky. This was the most Bolton would see of the ball for the majority of the first 45 minutes, Liverpool were up the other end in seconds, a Riera shot deflected off Keane, as the Irishman was unable to get out of the way or convert the chance.
Riera was in the thick of it minutes later when receiving the ball at the byline he somehow managed to skip past two defenders and put in a cross, constant pressure on the opposition goal saw Riera pop up on the right side of the pitch, something which seemed to put him off as he seemed to think he was directly in front of goal resulting in him shooting yards wide of Jaskelainnen's left hand post.
The team and fans remained patient and relentlessly methodical in their pursuit of breaking the deadlock, we got our reward 25 minutes in as Gerrard placed the ball at the corner flag for Liverpool's 8th corner of the game so far, whilst in the box Riera was conducting a private tete a tete with Daniel Agger. The next minute Gerrard whips in a ball to the near post, Riera sticks out a foot and directs the ball over the line 1-0 to the current league leaders.
The rest of the half sees the same the same patient build up, keeping possession and clawing it back when it's conceded stubbornly searching for a second goal. After the re-start Steinsson gives away a free kick and receives the first booking from an allegedly trigger happy Alan Wiley. A few seconds later Steinsson's in trouble again as Riera clutches his face as if Tyson's had a go at him. This is one side of Riera's game I'd prefer to see less of, as Emirates saw, a sending off is not always a helpful turn of events, especially when it's perceived as unjust, so cut it out please Albert.
From the resultant freekick young Emiliano Insua receives the ball and dribbles it into no less than 5 Bolton players demonstrating how difficult the Trotters were making it for The Reds. A counter from Bolton sees the away side win a rare corner, only for the unflappable Reina to pluck it out the air, a further Bolton attack saw our number 25 anticipate and snuff out any potential danger. I love this man. Our young Argentine left back picked up possession and crossed from deep into Keane, who dummied it for Kuyt, who was on a completely different wavelength and the ball was intercepted putting an end to a promising move. Seconds later with Bolton in possession Alonso slide tackles the ball into the skippers path who slides a ball through to a confident Robbie Keane and finishes the move with aplomb.
Just over half an hour remaining Bolton in possession from the kick off only for Agger to lunge in two footed on Elmander, getting the ball but earning a yellow for his trouble. This was indicative of Liverpool's sheer reluctance to allow the trotters to retain possession. Bolton floated the freekick into the area, and was met by a Bolton head but all that did was help it onto to a grateful Pepe Reina who leapt on the opportunity to find Alonso, who passed it to Benayoun who then set up Keane for his second and Liverpool's third.
Bolton decided to throw a few men forward and this point, for an alert Insua to concede a corner, to which the young Argentine was the first to and put it out for another which O'Brien puts wide. In an effort to change the balance Megson makes a double substitution with Riga on for Taylor and Smolarek replacing Elmander. It makes little difference as Liverpool keep to their gameplan and have little urgency.
22 minutes to go sees the introduction of El Zhar for Riera and, shortly after, Lucas for Gerrard who gets a deserved standing ovation. Liverpool on the attack and the irrepressible Kuyt forces Bolton to concede yet another corner, with the skipper off Alonso takes up the set piece duties and puts the ball right on Daniel Agger's head only for him to put his effort wide.
It's almost turned into a training ground match as time after time El Zhar finds himself in acres of space, the odd counter from Bolton fritters out and another Liverpool attack is put together, the introduction of Ngog for surprise sub Kuyt does nothing to stop Liverpool's dominance with Andrew O'Brien, Steinsson and McCann making sure the score stayed respectable.
Muamba puts the ball into Smolarek on 83 minutes only for the Bolton man to shoot narrowly wide, easily Bolton's best chance and for the first time making Reina work. Five minutes later Jamie Carragher finds himself in the final 3rd for a second time, previously shooting just over the bar. He threads a Xabi-esque ball to Keane, only for Steinsson to get to the ball first. Just before the final whistle and Keane receives the ball on the edge of the box, he unselfishly puts Ngog in only for O'Brien to be there yet again.
The fans will be happy with this one.
MoM - Andy O'Brien
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