Premier League - Bolton dismiss awful Liverpool

Sat, 21 Jan 19:26:00 2012

Bolton Wanderers climbed out of the Premier League relegation zone with a 3-1 win against an abject Liverpool side at the Reebok Stadium.

Bolton 3 Liverpool 1

Goals from Mark Davies and Nigel Reo-Coker gave Wanderers a commanding first-half lead before Craig Bellamy reduced the deficit on 37 minutes.

Gretar Steinsson restored the two-goal cushion five minutes after half-time, and thereafter Bolton coasted to only their second home win of the season.

Liverpool's play lacked imagination and - unforgivably - spirit, while Owen Coyle's side rediscovered some of the slick passing that won them many friends last season.

Speaking of friends, the visitors will point fingers at referee Kevin Friend, who turned down a first-half penalty appeal for handball against Zat Knight, then allowed Bolton's third goal after Martin Petrov's corner swung out of play.

But the referee's failings should not blind Kenny Dalglish to those of his own side.

Even with Steven Gerrard restored to a starting role, Liverpool created little through the middle while Craig Bellamy was the only attacking player to emerge with any credit.

Defensively it was little better, starting with the opening goal on three minutes.

David N'Gog slipped the ball into Davies, who was allowed to run by Daniel Agger and Glen Johnson.

Still no challenge came, and the midfielder beat Reina with a low left-foot shot that went in off the right-hand post.

There was another video nasty from the Liverpool defence moments later when Chris Eagles caught Jose Enrique dawdling in possession - he played the ball across the face of goal but there was nobody on hand to finish.

Liverpool eventually got a foothold on the game, but struggled to carve out clear chances against opponents with the division's worst defensive record.

A vociferous penalty appeal was denied when the ball hit Zat Knight's hand - referee Kevin Friend deemed the contact accidental - and within seconds Bolton were two up.

Nigel Reo-Coker and Fabrice Muamba both made unchecked runs from midfield, and when Eagles played the ball in from the right, Reo-Coker was on hand to squeeze the ball past Pepe Reina.

However, Bolton plumbed depths of defensive ineptitude to hand Liverpool a route back into the game on 37 minutes.

Knight and David Wheater appeared to have the situation under control when Andy Carroll flicked the ball on.

But as they dawdled, Bellamy sprinted through and beat Adam Bogdan with a deft finish.

Petrov tested Reina with a powerful free-kick in first-half stoppage time, and was a key figure on 50 minutes when Bolton went 3-1 ahead.

The Bulgarian's left-foot corner from the left side went out of play before curling back in - David Wheater headed back across goal and Steinsson half-volleyed smartly in, but the goal should not have stood.

The expected Liverpool onslaught never came. A Daniel Agger shot clipped the top of the bar and Andy Carroll made a complete mess of a first-time shot, but the second half was comfortable for Bogdan.

A year after re-taking the reins, Liverpool's progress under Dalglish has stalled. Worrying times at Anfield.

Alex Chick - Twitter @alexchick81 / Eurosport

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