showed real character
By Ian Rush - Liverpool Echo
Liverpool were disappointed to draw with Bolton on
Monday, but I was encouraged by the manner they achieved it.
When you've come from behind twice in a game, it shows how
much character you've got in your side.
Liverpool are the kind of team which tends to win when they
score first, so it answers a different question when they
concede the opening goal.
The way Rafa Benitez's side responded proved there is an
improvement to the heart of the team, as well as the skill
I've seen too many Liverpool games in the last two years
when I knew the team didn't have the capacity to fight back
when they went behind.
Now, they're battling for every ball.
To claim ten points from a possible 12 is an excellent
return over Christmas, and I fancy Liverpool to finish
second in 2006. Unfortunately, the gap to Chelsea looks too
I'm also pleased to see Harry Kewell rediscovering his form.
There was a time when only Benitez seemed to believe in
Harry, but he's winning over the supporters again.
He's had to repay the manager's faith, and the only way he
could do that was by getting his head down and working hard.
Liverpool fans aren't daft. They judge you as much by what
you do without the ball as much as with it, which is why
they took to Peter Crouch so quickly and have now started
chanting Kewell's name again.
If you put in the effort, you get the rewards.
Diouf adds to
El-Hadji Diouf has taunted Jamie Carragher as the war of
words between Bolton and Liverpool continued.
The former Anfield misfit accused Carragher of trying to
wind him up and said his goal was the perfect response.
Diouf's comments come in the wake of team-mate Kevin Nolan
absolving Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard of blame for
stamping on his chest during a fiery 2-2 draw at the Reebok
Bolton manager Sam Allardyce was outraged and claimed the
England midfielder should have been dismissed.
Diouf was also unhappy at the way Liverpool went about the
game, especially in Carragher's case.
"Sometimes people don't like me on the pitch but I am a bad
loser and I want to win every time," the Bolton striker told
the Trotters' official website.
"The Liverpool match was a big game because we needed to
react after Sunderland and Manchester United.
"I have a big character and I don't like it when someone is
talking at me.
"I told Carragher to wait because I'm going to score and
that's what I did."
By Ian Doyle - Daily Post Staff
Rafael Benitez has under-lined the importance of Harry
Kewell to Liverpool as he challenged the Australian to
continue his improvement in form.
The 27-year-old produced a man-of-the-match performance as
the European Champions recorded their 10th successive
Premiership victory with a 1-0 win over West Bromwich Albion
Kewell created the 52nd-minute winner for Peter Crouch and
could have been on the scoresheet himself if it were not for
an outstanding display from visiting goal-keeper Tomasz
It was Kewell's sixth start in Liverpool's last eight games
and Benitez believes the Australian is showing signs of
forging an under-standing with his team-mates and realising
a potential that has largely failed to be realised since his
£5million move from Leeds United in 2003.
"For us it is really important to have Harry," said the
Anfield manager. "We were talking about the need for quality
in the wider areas and Harry brings that. He can shoot and
"He has had injuries and problems and we were disappointed.
But we supported him and give him confidence and he has
given to us crosses, dribbles and a lot of things.
"It is good now to see him working hard. The supporters are
clever. They recognise that he is working hard and trying to
do his best.
That is important. We need to see him playing at this level
all the time now.
"But I would like to see him playing better. We need to know
him and understand him and what he wants.
"Sometimes we didn't give him the ball when he was in a good
position. He did a good job but he can do even better."
There was a consensus Kewell's career at Anfield was coming
to a close after he was booed by a section supporters when
limping off with a groin injury during the Champions League
final with AC Milan in May. It was the climax of a miserable
first season for the Australian under Benitez, who openly
questioned his fitness and criticised Kewell's agent Bernie
Mandic for comments on Liverpool's treatment of the player.
But while Benitez admits to frustration with Kewell, he
believes the winger's increased focus on his game has led to
a marked improvement.
"I have said many times that the first time I ever saw Harry
play was for Leeds against Manchester United and a fit Jaap
Stam a few years ago," added Benitez.. "He played really and
I thought then that as a manager he is the kind of player I
would like to sign.
"Sometimes you don't know how difficult it is for a player.
Sometimes if he is injured but wants to play then he cannot
play at 100%, he tries and sometimes it is difficult to
believe (how badly he is injured) because you never know. I
think sometimes he had bad advisors around him but now he is
focused on the game and that is best thing for him and us.
"I had confidence in him, I had problems sometimes when
people around him were talking, but I talked with him and
the Australian manager. I have confidence in him because he
is working hard.
"It is difficult for a player sometimes. You decide to use
him in two finals and then he needs to go because he is
injured and people talk. It is difficult for a player to
carry on when he is injured."
"We are trying to use Harry and protect him also," said
Benitez. "Every week you can see him progressing. Sometimes
he needs to play 90 minutes, but at this time when there are
lots of goals we need to use him little by little. He was
playing well, but I decided to rest him with the next game
legs finally cost us
By Paul Chapple - Daily Post Correspondent
Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez admitted the demanding
festive programme may have finally caught up with his
players after seeing his side's 10-game winning run come to
an end in a 2-2 draw at Bolton.
Liverpool showed plenty of spirit in twice fighting back at
the Reebok Stadium, with goals from Steven Gerrard and
substitute Luis Garcia salvaging a deserved point, but
Benitez conceded that four games in eight days on the back
of the trip to Japan for the Club World Championship may
have taken its toll.
He said: "We had some players tired and we tried some fresh
legs. We tried to change the position of players, we tried
to play long, short and wide but it was difficult because a
team like Bolton like to stop the game. This kind of game is
Benitez, who made four changes to the side that had beaten
West Bromwich Albion on Saturday in an attempt to freshen
things up, felt his side created enough chances to have won.
He said: "I am very disappointed. We had done a lot of good
things to win. We created a lot of chances but Bolton made
it very difficult to play the type of game I like.
"You cannot always play the type of football you want.
"We showed strong character to come back from 2-1. We played
really well and created a lot of chances."
Benitez felt his side had been harshly treated by referee
He said: "Peter Crouch tried to jump but he couldn't. It was
impossible for him. There were a lot of free-kicks against
us. Why? But we showed strong character in the second half
when we were playing well, but losing."
Benitez was happy with the impact of his substitutes, Xabi
Alonso and Luis Garcia, who combined to score the second
equal-iser. He said: "When we conceded the second goal we
changed things. We swapped the energy of Sissoko for the
quality of Alonso and we started controlling the game."
happy with point
By Paul Higham - Sky Sports
Luis Garcia says the Liverpool squad were disappointed
not to record an 11th Premiership win on the bounce at
Bolton, but welcomed a hard-fought point after twice going
Garcia grabbed a late leveller for The Reds as they twice
came from behind to earn a point from a tough game at The
Reebok, but it meant the end of their long winning streak.
The Spanish forward says that they were happy with a draw
after being forced to battle all the way by Bolton.
"It was difficult for us at the end because we were trying
to find a way to score a goal," said Garcia, who came off
the bench to score Liverpool's second.
"It was hard because we found a goal but then conceded
another one but we did well in the end to get a goal back.
"I had the opponent just in front of me so I tried to shoot
as soon as I could and luckily it went in.
"We knew Bolton would be a tough opponent. They try to play
long balls and win the second ball to keep us back in our
half of the pitch, and it's very difficult to play against
"I think we are happy because we know it's very difficult to
win here, the pitch is hard to play on and we knew it would
"It was a really tough game but at the end it was probably a
"We don't like to talk about records but when you try to
break them you want to beat them as they were set by the
best Liverpool teams of the past.
"But the most important thing is that we keep improving and
keep playing as we would like."
Gerrard over claims
BBC Sport Online
Kevin Nolan has backed Steven Gerrard's claim that a
stamp on the Bolton midfielder was unintentional.
Bolton boss Sam Allardyce suggested that Liverpool's Gerrard
deliberately stamped on Nolan in the 2-2 draw at the Reebok
Stadium on Monday.
However, Nolan said: "I do not think it was intentional."
Gerrard insisted: "It was a complete accident. I am mates
with Kevin Nolan so why would I ever try to deliberately
Nolan had stud marks on his chest after the 30th-minute
incident but maintains Gerrard was blameless.
He added: "I have seen the incident and it was just one of
"I was disappointed and wanted to have a look at it but I
didn't see much wrong with it.
"I would not want anything to happen to him now because it
was an accident."
Gerrard said he spoke to Nolan after the game and was
shocked Allardyce reacted the way he did.
He said: "I'm very surprised he is trying to make an issue
"We spoke at the end of the match. I wished him all the best
for the rest of the season and the tackle wasn't even
By Paul Higham - Sky Sports
Sam Allardyce says that both Steven Gerrard and Mohamed
Sissoko were guilty of stamping on Bolton players during
Liverpool's 2-2 draw at The Reebok.
The Reds had to twice come from behind to claim a point at
Bolton in a tough encounter that saw their winning streak
finally come to an end.
Rafa Benitez was not happy with Bolton's strong-arm tactics,
nor the diving of El Hadji Diouf, but Allardyce believes it
was The Reds who overstepped the mark.
Allardyce said Sissoko stamped on Diouf, while insisting
that Gerrard's studs landing on Kevin Nolan's chest was a
deliberate move by the Liverpool skipper.
"I'm very disappointed because there were three major
incidents that have been missed in our opinion," said
Allardyce, who also believes that Bolton should have had a
"While we're pleased with the performance we feel we've been
on the wrong end of some decisions today and maybe it's cost
us two points.
"Firstly Kevin Nolan was brought down by Jamie Carragher
with referee Mark Clattenburg waving play on, but he gave
Steven Gerrard a penalty which was just as clear as Nolan's.
"There were two nasty incidents here today too. People talk
about us being tough but we don't go over the top, but here
Gerrard stamped on Nolan and Sissoko stamped on Dioufy and
that's clear to see.
"He (Gerrard) has a look to see where he is before he did it
so it's clear.
"From our point of view the officials have been
disappointing today as they've missed these incidents and
have not dealt with them.
"That's the most disappointing thing because we would have
won the game had the referee dealt with Gerrard and Sissoko
Allardyce admitted that he was happy to have held off
Liverpool in the end as they strived to get a late winner.
"To be fair Liverpool upped the tempo in the second half and
it took some desperate defending by us at the end to hang on
to a point.
"That's why the second goal for us came at just the right
time as Liverpool were looking like they would go on and win
"But it's a good point for us and it shows our improvement
to hold a team that are so high up in the league and going
Benitez disappointed with draw
By Steve Hunter - LFC Official Website
Rafael Benitez admitted he was very disappointed with the
2-2 draw at Bolton Wanderers and felt Liverpool deserved to
win the game.
Benitez said it was difficult at times to play against
Bolton but felt his team played very well in the second half
and showed great character to twice come back from a goal
"I am very disappointed because we did a lot of things to
win the match and we deserved to win," said Benitez.
"Bolton are very difficult to play against and they had a
lot of free-kicks and throw-ins and you can't play the
football you want to play. I like to play football as well
as possible and in the second half we were very good and had
a strong character to come from behind.
"We made a mistake for the first goal but we did well in the
second half. We had some players tired and I tried to use
fresh legs but I put on Luis Garcia and Xabi Alonso and they
did well for the equaliser. I am very disappointed though we
didn't win the game."
run ends with draw
By Paul Higham - Sky Sports
Liverpool's long winning run came to an end as they were
held to a hard-fought 2-2 draw by Bolton at The Reebok
Rafa Benitez has built his side's recent success on a
rock-solid defence but they gave away a comical opening goal
to Radhi Jaidi after just ten minutes.
An out-of-sorts Liverpool battled back to draw level on 67
minutes with Steven Gerrard's penalty, but were soon behind
again when old boy El-Hadji Diouf bundled in a second for
Bolton just four minutes later.
Substitute Luis Garcia popped up to earn a point for the
visitors eight minutes from time but they could not force a
winner and had to settle for a point after a tough
The game started in scrappy fashion with numerous free kicks
preventing both teams from getting into any sort of rhythm.
Liverpool's defence has been the key to their recent good
run but it was hapless as Bolton drew first blood after just
ten minutes through some farcical defending.
A rather generous free kick award from Mark Clattenburg
should have come to nothing as Stelios' free kick floated
into Jose Reina's arms, only for the Spaniard to somehow
fail to gather the ball.
His spill was made worse as Sami Hyypia then prevented him
from gathering at the second attempt and the ball popped up
for Jaidi to gleefully nod into the empty net for 1-0.
The niggly free kicks continued to spoil the game and
Liverpool had to wait 24 minutes for a meaningful attack,
when Harry Kewell's header found Steven Gerrard at the edge
of the box, but his stinging volley was blocked by Ricardo
Dietmar Hamann went closer a minute later when his low drive
was superbly turned round the post by a sprawling Jussi
Djimi Traore nearly capped a return to the side with a goal
when he fired in a stinging 25-yarder that a surprised
Jasskelainen had to beat away.
Liverpool slowly started to get back into the game in the
second half, although it took until the 65th minute before
they went close to scoring as Gerrard twisted and turned at
the edge of the box before firing just wide.
Kewell set Gerrard away two minutes later with a good into
the left channel, and the skipper powered into the box until
he was brought down by Joey O'Brien for a clear penalty.
Gerrard picked himself up to take the spot kick and slotted
it coolly into the bottom corner of Jaaskelainen's goal.
After showing little in the second half, Bolton regained the
lead on 71 minutes when Kevin Davies broke free down the
left and his cross was luckily bundled in by Diouf after it
rebounded off Reina.
The goal came largely against the run of play and Liverpool
pressed again for a second equaliser, which came eight
minutes from time courtesy of substitute Luis Garcia.
Xabi Alonso chipped the ball in to his fellow Spaniard and
substitute, who chested the ball down past Gardner before
drilling a left-footed shot past Jaaskelainen for 2-2.
Liverpool went close to winning the game when Djibril
Cisse's header whizzed inches wide of the post in the dying
minutes, but The Reds had to settle for a hard-fought point
after their winning streak finally came to an end.