EPL: Narrow win lifts Liverpool out of relegation zone

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Liverpool climbed out of the relegation zone here Sunday after a moment of class from Fernando Torres set up a last-gasp 1-0 victory over Bolton.

In a game full of intent but precious little quality, Maxi Rodriguez latched on to a clever Torres backheel in the 86th minute to slot past Jussi Jaaskelainen to grab all three points.

It earned under-fire Reds boss Roy Hodgson his first back-to-back Premier League victories as Liverpool’s season finally seems to have gathered some positive momentum.

For long periods though, it looked as if Liverpool would be in for another desperately disappointing afternoon as they sought to build on last week’s win over Blackburn only to frustrated.

Torres had Liverpool’s best early opportunity as he charged through on goal but could not poke the ball past Jaaskelainen.

That followed an earlier chance when he headed a Steven Gerrard cross over the bar in a promising opening for the Spanish striker, who manager Hodgson last week denied was leaving the club.

It was a bright beginning from both sides, particularly Liverpool who had lost just three times to Bolton in their previous 22 engagements.

Joe Cole and Paul Konchesky combined to good effect down the left wing on several occasions early on with Cole starting to show glimpses of the form that made him a Chelsea favourite before his summer move to Anfield.

For most of the early stages, Bolton barely saw the ball as Liverpool’s midfield dominated possession but that did not translate into chances.

In fact, Bolton boss Owen Coyle will have been pleased with the way his side managed to snuff out the odd occasion that Liverpool did manage to get inside the opposition’s box.

The closest Bolton got to scoring came when Stuart Holden struck a wonderful volley from outside the box but although he caught his left footed effort sweetly, Pepe Reina was equal to the task to prevent the American from breaking the deadlock.

After 25 minutes, Bolton felt they deserved a penalty when Lee Chung-Yong seemed to be fouled in the box by Jamie Carragher but Martin Atkinson waved away Wanderers frantic appeals for a spot-kick.

The game took a nosedive once the half hour mark arrived as the early tempo was lost. Fabrice Muamba’s long-range effort briefly threatened Liverpool’s goal but drifted wide while Gerrard also failed to hit the target after great build up work from Cole and Maxi Rodriguez gave him a good shooting opportunity from outside the box.

After the break, Rodriguez’s brilliant overhead kick looked to be looping in with 20 minutes to go but it eventually dipped over the top of Jaaskelainen’s bar while Johan Elmander’s left foot effort also just drifted wide.

As the game progressed, it became increasingly clear that a single goal would probably be enough and to both side’s credit they pulled out all the stops looking for it.

But the spark of quality needed to settle the encounter was sorely missing — until Torres’s sublime flick released Rodriguez for his dramatic winner.

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