EPL: Liverpool victory eases pressure on Hodgson

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Joe Cole’s dramatic stoppage-time goal earned Liverpool a 2-1 win over Bolton Wanderers at Anfield here on Saturday that relieved the pressure on under-fire manager Roy Hodgson.

Liverpool looked to be heading for a third straight defeat when Kevin Davies headed Bolton into a 43rd minute lead.

But a superb Fernando Torres equaliser, his first in six games, levelled the scores four minutes after the break before former Chelsea midfielder Cole pounced in the dying seconds to give Liverpool a much-needed win.

However, whether the three points gained will save Hodgson from the sack remains to be seen.

Hodgson went into the game with reports circulating that Liverpool’s owners had decided the former Fulham manager was not the man to lead the club forward.

The reports claimed the Fenway Sports Group had actively begun the task of seeking a suitable successor and will remove Hodgson before the end of the season if they can find the right replacement.

Yet Hodgson put doubts over his future to one side as he demanded a response from his players following an awful mid-week loss at home to Wolves.

But Liverpool, who kicked-off without captain Steven Gerrard, made another sluggish start.

Gerrard had suffered cramp on his comeback from a hamstring injury three days earlier so Hodgson switched Lucas and Raul Meireles to the centre of midfield while Fabio Aurelio started at left-back in place of Paul Konchesky.

In addition, Hodgson recalled Denmark international defender Daniel Agger to the heart of the defence, as well as attacking midfielder Maxi Rodriguez.

Despite a dip in form, Torres kept his place and the Spain striker did more in the opening 20 minutes than he did in the entire 90 against Wolves.

But it was the returning Rodriguez who came closest to breaking the deadlock when he connected with Dirk Kuyt’s 32nd-minute cross to power in a header that bounced on top of the bar and went behind.

Rodriguez had earlier seen a goalbound effort scrambled away by Matthew Taylor, moments before Gerrard made an earlier than expected introduction following an injury to Meireles.

Bolton started six places and seven points above their hosts following an impressive first half to the season, yet they were forced to soak up waves of Liverpool pressure before the interval.

David Ngog forced a 40th minute save from Jussi Jaaskelainen before Davies headed the visitors into the lead two minutes before the break.

Aurelio gifted Bolton a free-kick that was whipped in by Taylor for Bolton’s captain to rise above the home defence and nod past Pepe Reina.

Suddenly, the mood at Anfield changed with the team booed off at half-time for the second successive game.

It needed a quick reply to prevent a repeat of the previous game, when Reds supporters mocked their manager with chants of ‘Hodgson for England’, and Liverpool got it through Torres.

The Spaniard was well paced to smash home on the volley a superb chipped pass by Gerrard. It was a quality finish in front of the Kop and brought a rare smile to Hodgson’s face.

Liverpool finished the game the stronger, with Torres flashing another effort narrowly wide, before Cole bundled home the winner from close range to give Hodgson renewed hope of hanging on to his job.

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