Four goals by striker Robbie Fowler helped sweep Liverpool to victory against struggling Bolton. The precocious 20-year-old -- currently keeping Ian Rush out of the side -- showed all the ruthlessness of his mentor to crown a magnificent all-round Liverpool performance that left bewildered Bolton chasing shadows.
Fowler opened his account after 11 minutes, running on to Jamie Redknapp's astute through ball to finish deftly with a low shot. He kept his cool equally well after half an hour as he latched onto a long clearance from 'keeper David James and ran on to score with Bolton's defenders waiting in vain for an offside flag.
But with the second half less than two minutes old Redknapp crossed from the right, a cluster of players challenged and the ball broke almost inevitably to the unmarked young striker who stabbed home his third.
Fowler was not finished yet, having an angled drive brilliantly turned over by the 'keeper after 54 minutes and a scissor-kick well saved a minute later.
His fourth goal after 67 minutes was his best, Steve McManaman crossing for Fowler who had time to steady himself just inside the area and curl a measured shot past Branagan's desperate dive and just inside the post.
Bolton, who had rarely threatened, snatched what appeared to be no more than a consolation goal after 77 minutes, David James saving a Richard Sneekes shot only for Owen Coyle to cross for Todd to head home.
Four-goal Liverpool hero Robbie Fowler admitted that his scoring feat in today's 5-2 win against Bolton was probably his best ever. The 20-year-old striker once scored five for Liverpool in a League Cup match against Fulham, but said: "This probably topped the lot. You can score five goals in the League Cup against lesser sides, but if you come in the Premiership and score four I think it is brilliant. I'm made up, anyway! The side created a lot of chances and I've scored four but missed about 10. If the side is playing well we will always make chances and hopefully myself, Stan Collymore or Ian Rush will be on the end of them. I felt a bit sorry for Bolton because in the first half I thought we were superb. We carried on where we left off in the second half and scored another two goals but we shouldn't have let them back into it with two sloppy goals. The fourth one was my best. I picked my spot and it found its way into the bottom corner so I was pleased with that one more than the others. I know I've not been around such a long time, but it's as good as any Liverpool side I have played in. John Barnes said after the Tottenham game last season that we were playing as a team of individuals, but we are playing more of a team game now."
Boss Roy Evans was delighted with Fowler's hard-working contribution to the match as much as with his goals: "My biggest joy was that Robbie got his four goals from working really hard and his general performance was excellent when he didn't have the ball and when we did have the ball. We all know he has that fantastic ability to score goals. I'm delighted for him."
But Evans was disappointed at the two goals Liverpool conceded. "Call me Mr Grumpy," he joked. "But you are always right as a manager to point out that may be on another day those two goals would have cost us a point or two. It was a smashing performance. You always want more but we were creating chances and we got what we asked for." He admitted that 8.5 million pound striker Collymore had not played well and said: "There is competition for places and Stan has to produce -- not because he cost 8.5 million pounds but because he is in our team."
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