Sun 31 Oct 10
at 18:40 PM
Wanderers 0 Liverpool 1
Wanderers were denied at the death as Maxi Rodriguez struck an 86th minute winner to bring the unbeaten start to the season at the Reebok to an end.
The midfielder poked in the winner from close-range to steal all the points in a game that could easily gone in Bolton's favour.
Indeed, from the first whistle to the very last, Owen Coyle's men matched the five-time European Cup winners all over the pitch, creating just as many chances.
Matt Taylor and Stuart Holden brought smart saves out of Pepe Reina in the first-half and Kevin Davies was inches away from breaking the deadlock with a glancing header after half-time.
But instead it was Liverpool who got the break in the final third late on to move level on points with Wanderers.
Ahead of the game, Manager Owen Coyle was forced to make one change to the team he had selected for the three previous fixtures. Martin Petrov missed out with a hamstring problem and Matt Taylor made his first Premier League start this season in a like-for-like swap on the left side of midfield.
And with Liverpool bringing in excess of 5,000 supporters and the Bolton public turning out in big numbers too, there was a fantastic atmosphere leading up to kick-off.
Fernando Torres, fresh from his strike against Blackburn last weekend, was the first player to have an effort on goal. The Spaniard towered to meet a Joe Cole corner after just four minutes, but his header was directed over the crossbar and caused no problem for Jussi Jaaskelainen.
Torres was presented with another decent opening just a few minutes later when he was played in behind Bolton's defence by Steven Gerrard. However, just as he looked to pull the trigger having cut inside, Gary Cahill was well placed to make a vital interception six yards from goal.
The visitors were looking particular threatening inside the opening ten minutes of the game, but Wanderers held firm and began to impose themselves on the contest.
Taylor forced Pepe Reina into an excellent punched clearance and on 18 minutes the wide-man drilled a long-range free-kick into a lengthy Liverpool wall.
On the opposite flank, Chung-Yong Lee was looking his usual busy self and an enterprising dribble down the right touchline resulted in the first booking of the game when Paul Konchesky halted the South Korean's run with a cynical late challenge.
Wanderers had their tails up and if it hadn't been for a world-class save from Reina then Stuart Holden would have bagged his first goal for Bolton on the midway point of the first-half. The midfielder had the confidence to unleash a fierce volley from the edge of the area, but the Spanish World Cup winner dived to his left to palm away the effort.
Chung-Yong saw a penalty appeal fall on deaf ears when he took a tumble inside the area following a dubious Jamie Carragher tackle, Fabrice Muamba hit an ambitious left-footed effort wide of the target from all of 30 yards and Taylor drove two free-kicks into the arms of Reina.
The closest Liverpool came to troubling Bolton's rearguard in the stages leading up to half-time was when Gerrard dragged an attempt wide from the edge of the box - five minutes after he had also watched a set-piece from a similar position land halfway back in the lower tier of the North Stand behind Jaaskelainen's goal.
Bolton, buoyed by their first-half showing, came out and continued to play in a positive manner, allowing Liverpool little or no time on the ball, although chances were limited in the opening exchanges after the restart.
Indeed, fifteen minutes passed before any goalmouth action worth noting took place - a Gerrard effort from 20 yards out that was easily blocked by the influential Zat Knight.
On the hour mark, Roy Hodgson was forced to turn to his bench and David N'Gog in particular when Joe Cole limped from the field with seemed to be a hamstring injury. The substitution signalled an alteration in tactics too as the visitors now went with a two-pronged attack in a 4-4-2 formation.
Liverpool did look more of a force following the change as centre-back Sotiros Kyrgiakos glanced a header onto the roof of the net and Maxi Rodriguez came a whisker away from rounding-off a crisp Liverpool counter-attack when he acrobatically volleyed just inches over the bar.
But Bolton also raised their game and forged out a couple of decent openings themselves. Reina needed to tip Elmander's low, skidding effort around the post and, from the resulting corner, Knight towered to power a header narrowly over for a goal-kick.
Just like the previous week at the DW Stadium, Owen Coyle shuffled his pack to give Rodrigo his home debut with 20 minutes remaining and his introduction almost helped conjure up the breakthrough goal as within a minute of being on the pitch, Kevin Davies held off his defender to place a header the wrong side of the post.
Taylor's delivery from the right was precise but the skipper couldn't get enough purchase on the finish, with Reina rooted to the spot.
The game continued to ebb and flow, but instead it was Liverpool who grabbed the decisive match-winning goal through Rodriguez with just four minutes remaining.
Torres was the provider, playing a neat back-heel into the path of the Argentinean, who poked the ball into the back of the net. Jaaskelainen put in a valiant effort, but he got no luck as the ball bounced off the crossbar and over the goal line to break Wanderers hearts.
Wanderers: Jaaskelainen, Steinsson, Knight, Cahill, Robinson, Chung-Yong (Rodrigo 74), Muamba, Holden, Taylor (Blake 88), Kevin Davies, Elmander (Klasnic 81) (Unused substitutes: Bogdan, Ricketts, Mark Davies, Cohen)
Liverpool: Reina, Carragher, Skrtel, Kyrgiakos, Konchesky, Cole (Ngog 61), Gerrard, Lucas, Meireles (Poulsen 89), Rodriguez, Torres (Unused substitutes: Hansen, Jovanovic, Spearing, Shelvey, Kelly)