The first match of 2007 saw Liverpool host Bolton at Anfield in the early kick off; a win was much needed with the visitors going into the game above the Reds. A Liverpool win though would put them back into third.
Match Report by Argenfell
Liverpool came out of the blocks very quickly against a Bolton side that had won their last 5 outings in the Premiership. The boys in red quickly settled when in possession and always looked to go forward; looking to build upon the 27 unbeaten home games Liverpool had reached prior to the kick off.
With plenty of width provided by Mark Gonzalez and Pennant they tested Bolton’s defence early on, Gerrard lashing wide and Kuyt’s goal bound volley bravely blocked by Bolton’s Abdoulaye Faye.
Bolton did not give up easily, constantly breaking up possession and stopping attacking play in the final third. Liverpool repeatedly attacking down the right, Finnan and Pennant linking up brilliantly to produce the only shot Liverpool could muster on target in first half, Steve Finnan’s superb shot on goal, which Jaaskelainen saw late and tipped onto the crossbar.
Liverpool continued to match Bolton’s physical hard working display very nearly got their reward when Crouch rose at back post only to flash wide under good Bolton defensive pressure from two defenders.
Another impressive passing move lead to the ball falling at Xabi Alonso’s feet 20 yards out, after a mazy run by John Arne Riise, and quick passing with Pennant and Kuyt, but the Spaniard’s side-footed effort curled away from goal and narrowly wide of the target.
Second half and it was a very different story, as Liverpool scored twice in 84 seconds to set themselves on the way and send the fans into raptures.
Just after the hour mark Crouch conjured up a goal right out of the top drawer, a mirror image of his goal against Gala, acrobatically overhead volleying in from eight yards out into the bottom left of Jaaskelainen’s goal, after brilliant work from Kuyt and Pennant down the right.
Only 83 seconds later it was game over, as more fine approach play, saw Liverpool break with Pennant, who slipped through to for Kuyt which finished with him crossing for Gerrard, who superbly volleyed into the top corner whilst riding two Bolton challenges.
Bolton’s heads dropped, diouf gave way for Ricardo Vaz Te and Keven Nolan also departed, as big Sam rang the changes. Still Liverpool kept on coming, Dirk Kuyt went on another mazy run and when it opened up shot straight at Jaaskelainen who tipped it over. Sami Hyypia then went close from the resulting corner with a great header, only to be denied by a flying save from Jaaskelainen again.
Bolton started to gain a small amount of momentum, but never really looked to threatening, save for a cross which Reina came to punch only not to make full contact, but the ball was quickly removed by Steve Finnan.
Bolton’s reprieve was short-lived, as Kuyt got the goal he so very much deserved. He was set free by Luis Garcia in the 83 minute, and held off the challenge of the Bolton defender Ricardo Gardner, and shot through the defenders legs just inside the right hand post, leaving Jaaskelainen with no chance of reaching it.
Crouch then had chance at the end to make it four, after a great cross from Steve Finnan after more attacking play yet again down the right side of the pitch where Liverpool caused Bolton no end of problems, only for Big Man to power his header straight at Jaaskelainen.
A solid performance at end of the day and Rafael Benitez will be hoping for more of the same for the visit of Arsenal this Saturday.
Report by Agrenfell