The Reds travelled to nearby Bolton to take on the Wanderers at the Reebok looking to secure their first back to back wins under Hodgson in the league this season.
With 3 points vital for both sides to kick start their respective seasons, Bolton came out the livelier and looked to catch the Reds flat footed early with high tempo football in the Liverpool defensive third. However, with four minutes gone it was Liverpool who had the first chance through Fernando Torres as he rose highest to meet a Steven Gerrard corner but couldn’t keep his effort down.
Just minutes later, a misplaced pass by Paul Robinson in midfield allowed Gerrard to release Torres down the right channel with only one to beat. As the Spaniard cut inside, he took one touch too many and the opportunity squandered with the ball rolling away from his feet.
Torres was the recipient of another through ball, this time from Maxi Rodriguez who intercepted the ball in his own half before slipping a delightful ball in the path of Torres but Bolton’s keeper Jussi Jaaskeleinen was aware of the danger and imminently rushed out to clear.
As both sides continued to struggle for supremacy in the middle of the park, Pepe Reina was called in to action for the first time on 23 minutes as Stuart Holden got hold of a high ball to unleash a stinging effort on goal but Reina produced a smart instinctive save to his left to keep the American at bay.
It was heart in mouth stuff again for Liverpool just two minutes later as Lee Chung-Yong cut inside from the left and surged in to the box before finding himself in the unenviable position of being sandwiched between Sotis Kyrgiakos and Jamie Carragher, but the referee Martin Atkinson waved away the appeals.
As the half wore on, opportunities were hard to come by with long range efforts from Gerrard and Joe Cole going well over as both sides struggled in the conditions to get any sort of fluidity in their passing.
Just before the half time break, Bolton thought they had a penalty when Matty Taylor bombed down the left wing and delivered a cross in to the box which took a deflection off Carragher’s arm but once again Atkinson was on the spot to deny any appeals.
A frantic last few minutes of the first period saw two free kicks from Taylor saved with little trouble from Reina in dangerous positions. Meanwhile at the other end Torres was fouled 35 yards out and Gerrard quickly chipped it over the top to find Kyrgiakos rise highest to try and slot it in the far post but Jaaskelainen was on hand to push it away as both sides headed in to the break even.
After the interval it was Bolton once again who came out strongest and a cross from Matty Taylor caused panic when it was allowed to roll around in the penalty area before Joe Cole cleared. Taylor was there again just minutes later as his pass was taken in by the captain Kevin Davies and as he looked to put Fabrice Muamba in to the clear, Lucas Leiva was the last man back for Liverpool and he saved the day with a last ditch interception.
Often isolated up front, Torres was looking for ways to get involved in the match and twice linked up with Cole on the left to create pathways in to the Bolton defence, with both men having efforts on goal saved.
Heading in to the business part of the match, both sides looked to press for a winner but it was Liverpool who were gradually getting on top. A Steven Gerrard corner swung in to the box was met by Kyrgiakos again who was proving to be an aerial presence as always, but it sailed just over the bar.
After Joe Cole left the field with what looked like a hamstring injury, Maxi Rodriguez began to run the show through the middle and picked the ball up from his own half and going on a jinking run in to the Bolton area before flicking it to Gerrard whose cross met Torres and his knock down was met by that man Maxi who tried an acrobatic overhead kick from 12 yards out, sending it inches over the bar with Jaaskeleinen scrambling backwards.
Bolton could of taken the lead on 76 minutes as Martin Skrtel conceded a free kick on the right hand side of Bolton’s attack deep in the Liverpool half. The resulting delivery from Matty Taylor was allowed to travel straight through to Stuart Holden on the back post but failed to connect with the goal at his mercy.
Liverpool continued to assert themselves in the match and pressed on and they finally found some reward on 87 minutes when Torres was fed a ball to his feet and delicately back-heeling in to the path of Maxi Rodriguez through Gary Cahill’s legs, giving the Argentine a one on one with the keeper which he took after a neat side footed effort to send the fantastic away support in to raptures.
As time ticked down, Hodgson brought on Christian Poulsen to tie things up and make sure of the win and he did just that, with Liverpool securing only the third win of the season, the first away from Anfield, in the league and moving up to 12th, just five points off the top four.