Sunday 2nd March 2008 @ 1.30 pm
Liverpool continued their Premiership revival, handing Rafa’s first and long-overdue victory at the Reebok, and only the reds first victory away at Bolton in 6 years.
The reds have been out-guiled by Bolton over the years, but when Jussi Jaaskelainen made a mess of Steven Gerrard’s powerful shot, you could sense it would be a Liverpool victory all day long.a
Benitez opted for a strong line up with Alonso, Mascherano and Gerrard all involved in the starting line up. With Kuyt, Torres and Babel also in the team it was another strong indication that Benitez is slowly moving to his famed Valencia formation with which he had much success.
Jamie Carragher returned to the side, but was played right back with Hyypia and Skrtel preferred in central defence.
A few nervy moments for Liverpool in the first twenty minutes until a Gerrard firecracker was strangely helped in to the Bolton net by Jaaskelainen who won’t be collecting the man of the match award.
From this point onwards Liverpool dominated the entire match.
No goals for Torres this week, but as ever his work-rate was top notch. He was pulling the Bolton defence all over the place and Babel and Kuyt saw plenty of possession thanks to the space Fernando was creating.
Ryan Babel was the pick of the crop, proving he is finally coming to terms with his Liverpool career as Benitez continues to reward him with a place in the side. When a Dirk Kuyt shot rebounded from the post the ball made its way to Babel who cooly fired home from the left hand side of the penalty area to double the reds lead.
A while later, a cross found Fabio Aurelio at the edge of the box. The Brazilian had time to chest the ball down before volleying it with the outside of his left foot in to the top right hand corner for the pick of the days goals.
Bolton continued to push forward and were rewarded with a late goal. Liverpool had struggled with Bolton’s set-pieces throughout the game, and Rafa would do well to spend some time with the players before West Ham arrive at Anfield mid-week.
The reds moved to 4th, but with Everton winning later in the afternoon, the reds ended the day in 5th place.
Benitez post match
“It was a good game and great performance of the team. We worked hard, played well and created chances so I am pleased.
“We had some problems at free-kicks but after this we controlled the game.
“We were trying to pass the ball and go forward and we had two or three clear chances. The idea was to have a good game and get the three points.”