Bolton in hunt for fourth

Bolton may not be lording it over Liverpool yet, but that time could be coming closer. Gerrard Houllier's team had to come from behind twice to salvage a point from this tense encounter.

They believe all things are possible here these days, so they will not have been surprised to see their 20 year-old local boy advance from fullback to claim his first goal in senior football and give Bolton the lead.

Not content with that, Nicky Hunt made a crucial block to retain the advantage and provided Henrik Pedersen with the opportunity he should have taken to compound Liverpool's anxiety.

Even without the inspiration of Jay-Jay Okocha, Bolton have the range of talents to cope with most Premiership opposition and Liverpool's frustration was evident in the reaction of their more illustrious players. The rise and rise of Bolton has raised expectations even higher in these parts. Already in the Carling Cup final, they went into this match seeking a fourth consecutive Premiership victory, knowing it would lift them above Liverpool.

Fourth place in the Premiership is Liverpool's objective and, with long absent players returning from injury, Gerard Houllier recognises nothing less than that would be acceptable. Michael Owen, who last scored in October, is restored to fitness and the goals, he is confident, will surely come. 

The England striker might have ended the drought in the third minute. He met a free kick from his captain, Steven Gerrard, only to divert the ball straight to Jussi Jaaskelainen, the Bolton goalkeeper. Hunt was much more clinical when a chance came his way in the 11th minute. Liverpool failed with two attempts to clear Bruno N'Gotty's free kick and Kevin Davies' flick at the ball inadvertently set it up for Hunt. He unerringly drilled his left-foot shot inside the near post with Jerzy Dudek stationary.

The ubiquitous Hunt then took on the role of provider, finding Pedersen with a majestic diagonal pass, the striker brought the ball down but lifted his shot high over the bar.

Liverpool broke with similar menace and Gerrard was left wondering why no-one had met his low cross. Bolton had to beat off a series of shots, Jaaskelainen saved from Gerrard and Anthony Le Tallec wastefully blazed over as Liverpool finished the first half with a flourish.

Gerrard's persistence was rewarded when he delivered the free-kick from which Sami Hyypia headed the equaliser in the 52nd minute.

Bolton needed barely six minutes to go in front again. Kevin Nolan centred, Davies pulled the ball back and Youri Djorkaeff converted. But Liverpool responded a second time, Gerrard volleying past Jaaskelainen after 69 minutes.

Match details

Bolton: Jaaskelainen, Hunt, N'Gotty, Thome, Barness, Campo, Nolan, Frandsen (Ba 26), Djorkaeff, Pedersen, Davies, Ba (Charlton 82).
Subs Not Used: Poole, Otsemobor, Javi Moreno.
Booked: Davies, Campo, Thome.
Goals: Hunt 11, Djorkaeff 58.

Liverpool: Dudek, Finnan, Henchoz, Hyypia, Carragher, Le Tallec (Murphy 84), Hamann, Gerrard, Kewell, Owen, Cheyrou (Sinama Pongolle 65).
Subs Not Used: Luzi Bernardi, Riise, Biscan.
Booked: Finnan, Kewell.
Goals: Hyypia 51, Gerrard 69.

Att: 27,552
Ref: A Wiley (Staffordshire).

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