Sunday 29th August 2004 (4.05pm)
Reebok Stadium, Bolton
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Gerrard tries to bring the reds back in to the game

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Benitez competitive matches record: Played 5 Won 2 Drawn 1 Lost 2
Bolton 1-0 Liverpool

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Davies 38

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Kevin Davies, snapped up for nothing, left Liverpool's big-money buys on the floor at the Reebok Stadium.

The industrious striker grabbed the winner to give Bolton their third victory in four games.

For a club that continues to view avoiding relegation as a success, it is a remarkable start.

While manager Sam Allardyce will be delighted, new Liverpool coach Rafael Benitez has a lot of work to do if they are to regain a place at the top table.

He was looking for his team to bounce back after the defeat by Graz AK in the Champions League but they carried little threat at the Reebok.

Benitez gave debuts to Spanish duo Xabi Alonso and Luis Garcia for this game.

Alonso was drafted in from Real Sociedad for £10.7million while Garcia moved from Barcelona for £6million.

However, it will take both players time to get adjusted to the demands of the Barclays Premiership.

Benitez packed the midfield with Czech Republic striker Milan Baros the lone striker.

Liverpool central defender Sami Hyypia was left in a daze inside the first minute when Davies backed into him.

Davies caught Hyypia's face with an elbow but TV pictures indicated that it was an accident.

Hyypia was able to resume after treatment on the pitch, although he looked in a little bit of discomfort.

There were reports his nose had been broken and he had difficulty seeing out of his right eye.

He eventually came off in the 14th minute and was replaced by Djimi Traore, who could well be playing his last game for the club ahead of a move to Everton.

Alonso and Garcia were struggling to get into the game and Baros scuffed a shot wide of the post from a good position.

However, Alonso found space and set up Dietmar Hamann, only for his effort to go wide of the target.

Play switched down the other end and Jamie Carragher did well to block Gary Speed's goal-bound effort.

Greece winger Stelios Giannakopoulos got on the end of a cross from Jay-Jay Okocha after 30 minutes but failed to test Jerzy Dudek with his header.

Steven Gerrard was beginning to win a lot of possession in the middle of the park and tried to steer a shot beyond Jussi Jaaskelainen, only to see his effort go wide.

The England star then picked out Stephen Warnock with a good crossfield ball with Bolton pushing up.

Warnock showed pace to skip away down the left before delivering a cross into the path of Garcia.

He flicked the ball on but there was no-one in the area to take advantage of the opportunity.

Bolton took the lead after 38 minutes when former Southampton striker Davies scored his first goal of the season.

He ghosted in at the far post to toe-poke a shot into the net after Henrik Pedersen had got away from Josemi down the left before delivering a low cross.

It was good work by Pedersen, who has been recalled to the Denmark squad for the forthcoming World Cup qualifiers.

Liverpool manager Benitez decided to boost his attacking options at the start of the second half.

He brought on Djibril Cisse to partner Baros with Warnock being replaced despite a bright display on the left flank.

Bolton almost added a second in the 46th minute with the industrious Davies sending in a powerful 25-yard effort.

Poland goalkeeper Dudek, however, was equal to it and did well to turn the ball around the post.

Pedersen then put Traore under pressure when Davies flicked on a cross from Bruno N'Gotty. The Liverpool defender was happy to hack the ball into the stand.

Liverpool were again forced on the back foot when Ivan Campo found space but his effort did not trouble Dudek.

Pedersen was giving Josemi a headache with his insistence on taking him on and the Spaniard looked uncomfortable.

Dudek produced another fine save in the 58th minute, clawing away a header from the Tunisian Radhi Jaidi.

This was a good spell of pressure by Bolton who were stringing together a number of neat passes.

Okocha got away a minute later and Dudek did well to get down early and get his body behind the ball.

Liverpool retaliated and Gerrard picked out Garcia, only for his effort to go the wrong side of the post.

Cisse was becoming increasingly frustrated at the lack of service but Bolton were continuing to dominate in midfield.

Allardyce rang the changes, bringing on Les Ferdinand and Kevin Nolan for Davies and Giannakopoulos.

With time running out, Liverpool pushed forward and Garcia found the net only for his effort to be ruled offside by referee Uriah Rennie.

Cisse could have equalised for Liverpool in the 87th minute but sent a shot wide from a tight angle under pressure from Jaidi.

Press Association

» Teams

Bolton: Jaaskelainen, Hunt, N'Gotty, Jaidi, Gardner, Okocha (Hierro 85), Campo, Speed, Giannakopoulos (Nolan 75), Davies (Ferdinand 72), Pedersen.

Subs Not Used: Poole, Cesar.

Booked: Nolan, Hierro.

Liverpool: Dudek, Josemi, Carragher, Hyypia (Traore 14), Riise, Luis Garcia, Alonso, Hamann, Warnock (Cisse 45), Gerrard, Baros.

Subs Not Used: Diao, Biscan, Harrison.

Att: 27,880

Ref: U Rennie (S Yorkshire).

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» Audio/Video Reaction

Rafa Benitez post match interview

All audio and video requires RealPlayer and is from the BBC unless otherwise stated.

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» Other Media/Press Reports

BBC Sport
The Times: 'Bolton Build on Ideas above their station'
The Independent: 'Davies spoils introduction of Liverpool's new look'
The Telegraph: 'Lacklustre Liverpool look short of Spirit'

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Match Report filed: 29th August 2004