Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Liverpool's lucky escape past Bolton

150 minutes of football between Liverpool and Bolton Wanderers produced no goal. It was perhaps this tedium that got the better of referee Roger East as he awarded Bolton a controversial penalty in the 60th minute of this fourth round replay. To most observers the promising Zach Clough dived, but Eidur Gudjohnsen paid little heed to the contentiousness of the situation, scoring the penalty with minimum fuss. The Icelandic legend really should have buried Liverpool when he had a free header ten minutes later, but somehow he contrived to head the ball into the ground.

The Trotters would rue that missed chance as the home side came increasingly under the cosh from the visitors, more so after the dismissal of Neil Danns left Bolton short-handed for the last twenty minutes. Emre Can took control of the game, spreading the ball out wide consistently, then almost scoring with a spectacular hit before releasing Raheem Sterling for the equalizer with a sublime pass. Liverpool immediately went searching the winner to avoid extra time and duly got it thanks to a speculative effort from Philippe Coutinho.

The result continues a decent sequence of results for the Reds, but it must be a source of concern for Brendan Rodgers that after two legs against a Championship team his side needed stoppage time to book their progress into the next round. If Liverpool are to survive a difficult fixture list in February unscathed, Rodgers will have to ensure there are significant improvements in his team's game.