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Bolton 3-1 Liverpool: Bolton crush sorry Reds

An early two-goal lead gave the Bolton Wanderers all they needed to beat a sub-par Liverpool Saturday at the Reebok Stadium 3-1 with goals from Mark Davies, Nigel Reo-Coker, and Gretar Steinsson. Craig Bellamy pulled one back for the visitors.

Bolton got off to a dream start in just the the 3rd minute with Davies’ goal. Fromer Liverpool man David Ngog displayed excellent skill to play Davies, who easily got passed Charlie Adam and Steven Gerrard. Martin Skrtel was then passed up by Davies, who calmly buried the ball past Pepe Reina.

The dream continued just moments later. Chris Eagles dispossessed Jose Enrique along the touchline and carried the ball to just outside the box, playing a low ball across the face of goal, however no one could get on his low cross. A simple tap in would have given Bolton an early two-goal lead.

Bolton, however, got that two-goal lead, making their dream start a living fantasy. Nigel Reo-Coker chested the ball and easily put it past Reina into the top left corner with his right foot in the 29th minute. On the play, Bolton were kept onside by Glen Johnson.

The Reds managed to pull one back through Craig Bellamy just 7 minutes later. A great flicked header from Andy Carroll played the Welshman in on goal, and his shot trickled in off the keeper to bring the scoreline to 2-1 at the break.

It wouldn’t take long though for Bolton to restore their two-goal advantage, however. Coming off a corner which the Reds failed to clear in the 50th minute, Gretar Steinsson ripped home into the bottom corner on a volley.

The Reds never came back from that, and generally struggled throughout the match to keep possession and create genuine chances on goal.

The win lifted Bolton out of the relegation zone on 19 points, while Liverpool remain in 7th on 35.

Manager Kenny Dalglish was upset at his side that welcomed back Bellamy, Maxi Rodriguez, and Daniel Agger. Calling Liverpool’s performance “disrespectful,” Dalglish threatened that some players might find the door if performances like the Bolton one become a habit.

“As well as they [Bolton] did, I think we were equally as bad, ” he told ESPN after the game. “If anybody has any aspirations of staying any length of time at the football club then they’ll not be here for much longer if that’s the way they want to perform. We expect a much higher level than that.

“It’s all well and good saying there might have been distracted because there is a game on Wednesday and another game on Saturday, but every game is a massive game for us. And if they think they can turn the clock on and off, then they won’t be turning it on and off at this club.”

The Reds came out in a 4-4-2, playing Carroll and Bellamy up top, and playing Jordan Henderson as a RM. The central pairing of Adam and Gerrard proved costly for Liverpool, as both players sat too deep when attacking and both players failed to pick up runners from midfield on Bolton’s first half goals.

Starting XI: Reina; Johnson, Skrtel, Agger, Jose Enrique; Henderson, Gerrard (C), Adam, Rodriguez; Carroll, Bellamy

Subs: Doni; Coates, Carragher, Kelly; Downing, Shelvey; Kuyt

Man of the Match: Craig Bellamy. The 32-year-old was the only outfield player who put in a good effort Saturday and was rewarded with a goal. His movement was excellent, as was his desire: Bellamy didn’t check off at all during the match and was the only real offensive threat.

Needs to do better: Andy Carroll. While almost everyone on the pitch needed to play better in the match, Carroll stands out for a few reasons. Despite a good 15 minute spell in the first half, in which the big Geordie assisted Bellamy, his overall play was lacking. His movement was slow, and his touch was out of sorts. Carroll also miskicked a create chance created for him by substitute Stewart Downing. In his Newcastle days, Carroll would have buried that into the back of the net.

Side note: On the commentator on BBC’s “Match of the Day” program called Mark Davies’ run from midfield “Moses parting the Red Sea” due to the ease of which Davies ran through Liverpool.

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