Liverpool grabbed an important victory at home to Bolton Wanderers yesterday, and stretched their unbeaten Premier League run to 6 matches. A first half goal from Dutch winger Dirk Kuyt, his third in 3 matches, was followed by a Kevin Davies own goal in the second period to confirm the victory.
Liverpool signalled their attacking intent as Aquilani came in for Lucas Leiva and David Ngog returned up front. However, it was the away side who had the better chances during a nervy first half. There was a clear sense of tension engulfing Anfield, and this was transmitted onto the pitch as Rafa's Reds struggled to create any clear cut chances for the majority of the first half.
Bolton ripped through the Liverpool defence on two occasions as they displayed an attacking style of play that was absent under the managerial reign of Gary Megson. First, Tamir Cohen, son of ex Red Avi Cohen, ran with the ball into the penalty area and the Israeli had a glorious chance to shock Anfield by giving Bolton an early lead, however the irrepresible Pepe Reina smothered the ball after Cohen had skipped past Jamie Carragher.
This missed opportunity didn't discourage the away side as they counter attacked well. Liverpool were dominating possession without penetrating the Trotter's backline. From another attack, Bolton broke away once again, this time Chung-Yong Lee raced through into the penalty area from the half way line, leaving several Liverpool player's in his wake. Reina forced him wide of goal as he arrived in the box but Lee still managed to get a shot off and would have scored if Kyrgiakos hadn't cleared off the line.
The Greek continued his good form in this game, and helped Liverpool to keep a clean sheet once again. Liverpool have now only conceded 1 goal in their last 6 Premier League matches. Over recent weeks Kyrgiakos has shown that he is a more than able central defender, and can definitely do a good job when required. There is no doubt that he wasn't Rafa's first choice signing however he has been good value for money, and could prove to be a more than adequate replacement for the Legend that was Sami Hyypia.
Liverpol took the lead shortly before half time through Dirk Kuyt. Riera sprayed a pass out to Insua on the left wing. The Argentine picked out Aquilani in the box who provided another assist for Kuyt as he headed the ball back across the box to the feet of the Dutchman. Kuyt scrambled the ball home from 6 yards to give Liverpool the vital first goal, and relieved a little of the tension that was looming over Anfield.
Liverpool came out for the second half looking to score a critical second goal to put the game to bed, however it was Bolton who pressurised Liverpool's defence in the opening moments of the half, with Liverpool's backline having to deal with several long throw ins and set pieces.
Liverpool had plenty of space to exploit as Bolton pushed forward in search of an equaliser, and they almost took advanatge through young striker David Ngog. Riera ran with the ball down the left and crossed for Stevie, who's first time effort rebounded out to the Frenchman. Everyone in Anfield expected to see the net bulge to confirm Liverpool's victory but this wasn't the case as Ngog's shot bounced onto the bar from 6 yards out.
It was a horrible miss but Ngog made up for his error on 70 minutes as he provided the pass to Insua who's effort from the edge of the box took a massive deflection off Bolton striker Kevin Davies to wrong foot Jaaskelainen.
The second goal relived everyone inside Anfield, of a red allegiance, and led to the Reds playing some excellent, high quality attacking football to reward the patient supporters who packed out Anfield once again. Maxi and Babel came onto the pitch as substitutes to add some extra attacking flair to the Liverpool line up.
Gerrard was inspirational throughout, and displayed his quality in attack as the game came to a conclusion. His cultured free kick was headed just over the bar by Lucas when Kuyt was better positioned to find the back of the net.
After this, Gerrard entertained the home crowd by turning a Bolton defender inside and out at least 5 times, to rapturous applause. The ball was then transferred to Insua via Lucas. The young left back, who showed his worth to the side with another terrific performance, whipped in a dangerous cross to the back post where Maxi Rodriguez just failed to connect with the ball as he slid into the 6 yard box. It would have been a perfect ending to the game, but it wasn't to be.
Liverpool must now look to sustain the level of performance they showed in the second half of this game, against Everton, Arsenal and Manchester City in 3 massive games that could rescue the Reds disappointing season. If we show this attacking flair and quality in the upcoming games then i am sure that the results will follow.