Robbie Fowler match-winner on his 31. birthday.
ominous for Cisse's future
Analysis By David Prentice - Liverpool Echo
As one door opens, another slams firmly shut.
So while Robbie Fowler nudged the door to a new Anfield
future even further ajar with a trademark finish yesterday,
Djibril Cisse's fleeting hopes of extending his Liverpool
career now look as remote as a free-flowing Bolton passing
The Frenchman's impressive performance at The Hawthorns last
Saturday convinced Rafael Benitez to hand him another
opportunity down the Reds' right flank.
But with space more constricted at Anfield than in the
Midlands, Cisse's one occasionally effective trick of
pushing the ball outside the full-back and using his pace to
get to the byline first, was a non-starter.
So while he started at Anfield, by half-time his match was
A little like his long-term Liverpool future, one suspects.
It's easy to feel sympathy for Cisse. Signed as a
front-running, central striker - he has as many right-wing
tendencies as Derek Hatton.
But he simply doesn't fit into the striking strategy Benitez
has evolved for his Liverpool side - or have the wit to
And with Fernando Morientes unlikely to have any sell-on
value, and Peter Crouch vital to Benitez's forward planning,
Cisse is the obvious man to make way.
A goals return of 15 looks solid, especially in a season
when he has never been handed a regular run of games in the
But many of those goals have been cheaply acquired - four in
Champions League qualifiers against teams with more initials
than high class defenders in their names, two more in the
minutes of matches against Champions League makeweights
Anderlecht, another couple from the penalty spot and another
'soft' goal against a demoralised Birmingham.
And it is unlikely to have been enough to impress his
Robbie Fowler's credentials are altogether more convincing -
despite celebrating a milestone he'd perhaps rather ignore
yesterday . . . his 31st birthday.
Fowler's ability to score when it matters most is
unquestioned - but his three goals so far have all been the
crucial first in a match, while yesterday's proved the
The solitary highlight of a sleepy first half, Liverpool
rarely looked troubled after his laser-guided finish.
Liverpool's mastery of a Bolton team who regularly trouble
the Premiership's glitterati is unusual.
Rafa Benitez was handed a rude introduction to the more
agricultural aspects of the English game when he made his
first visit to Bolton two years ago.
But Sam Allardyce's up and at 'em style is not a tactic he
has found difficult to overcome ever since.
The Trotters have never won at Anfield in the Premiership -
while home and away they have still only accumulated two
wins in 19 over the Reds.
While the rest of the Premiership's more technically
accomplished teams still find Bolton a noxious nuisance,
Liverpool manage to edge past them with the minimum of
So it proved again yesterday, even without the abrasive
ball-winning skills of Momo Sissoko.
The rarely threatened 1-0 win also opened another door. Next
season's Champions League qualifiers are now nailed on -
with 70 points collected for only the second time in a
And with 14 wins from 18 home games, Anfield is most
definitely a fortress once more.
The only doors shutting at Anfield these days are on the
opposition, and perhaps on Djibril Cisse.
insists: I can keep on scoring
By Ian Doyle - Daily Post Staff
Robbie Fowler yesterday insisted he has plenty of
goalscoring years left in him after proving Liverpool's
match-winner on his 31st birthday.
The striker netted the only goal in first-half injury time
to earn Rafael Benitez's side a hard-fought 1-0 triumph over
Bolton Wanderers at Anfield.
It was Fowler's third goal in his last three starts and
strengthened his claims for a new contract, once his present
deal expires at the end of the season.
And the forward said: "I think it's the first time I've
scored on my birthday so to score the only goal in a 1-0 win
is perfect. I'm very happy.
"There weren't that many chances, it was an instinctive shot
and I was fortunate enough to see it go in.
"I think there are plenty of years still left in me. I think
people have been saying over the years that I've been past
it. But in games I have started with Liverpool I have a
reasonably good record and I hope that it can continue.
"I've got to keep plugging away and score as many goals as I
can before the end of the season. Everyone knows where I
want to be and until the manager says otherwise I'm happy to
go along with things.
"I'm getting fitter but there are only four games left. I've
not had many runs of games all season, but since I've been
here the manager has involved me more and more and the more
games you play the fitter you will feel. I do feel better."
Fowler was given a standing ovation from the home supporters
on his substitution 14 minutes from time, and added: "Ever
since I've been back here the fans have been fantastic and I
couldn't have asked for anything more from them. It was
great to get an ovation like that when I came off, it means
an awful lot."
Liverpool win a sideshow
By Paul Walker - PA Sport
The title race raged all around a Liverpool side who are
frustrated bystanders in the battle as Rafael Benitez
concentrated his efforts on securing Champions League
football next season.
Liverpool ache to be involved in such a showdown as Chelsea
and Manchester United are contesting, but they had to be
satisfied with a victory over Bolton that virtually secured
a top-four finish.
Boss Benitez said: "Maybe things will be different next
season, every season is different. But for now we are almost
there as far as qualifying for the Champions League is
After the dust had settled on yesterday's battles at
Stamford Bridge, Old Trafford and Anfield, Liverpool had to
be content with a victory that means they are virtually
certain of another Champions League campaign.
Arsenal's defeat at Manchester United means they can only
reach 71 points, with Liverpool already on 70, only the
second time in 10 seasons they have reached that mark.
Spurs, currently fourth, can get to 73 points. But with
Arsenal and Spurs still to meet on April 22, clearly both
sides cannot achieve maximum points.
Liverpool need one more win to not only secure a top-four
finish but to claim third place.
Benitez said: "With Spurs and Arsenal having to play each
other, it means we only need one more win to make sure of a
"And we are very close now to securing third place, with
second still something we have as a possibility."
However, United are now five points clear of Liverpool with
a game in hand, so runners-up really is beyond Benitez's men
They had to fight grimly for this sixth victory on the trot,
and had to thank Robbie Fowler, on his 31st birthday, for a
first-half strike - his third in three starts - for victory.
It was Fowler's 12th goal in 13 games against Bolton, and he
said: "I was aware that I have scored a few against them.
"But from my point of view it was another goal and I am
enjoying my current form."
Benitez added: "That was good for Robbie to score on his
birthday, and I know that it means I will be answering
questions about his contract situation.
"All can say is that I want to see him scoring goals and
playing well, and if he does that it will be good for
Bolton boss Sam Allardyce also acknowledged the critical
part Fowler played in Liverpool's sixth successive win,
which sees them 19 points better off than at this stage last
It also produced their best haul of home points for six
seasons and their 32nd clean sheet, the fourth best in the
Allardyce also had a view on Fowler's future. He said: "If
he keeps scoring goals they will keep him for themselves.
"The goal is what he is all about and shows why he has
scored so many goals in his career. He mishit that shot but
it was on target and bobbled in.
"He makes sure that however he connects, the ball is on
target. We had a couple of excellent chances early on but
didn't get them on target.
"We should have snuffed him out, he had time and space to
score like that. We dominated the first half and the last
thing I expected was to go in at the break one down.
"That killed us off, it certainly knocked the lads back and
although they tried hard they did not have the belief after
the break to get back into it.
"We paid the ultimate price for creating chances and not
talking them. If you want to play in Europe then you have to
score when you are on top because that gives you the drive
to keep going when teams like Liverpool come back at you."
Benitez full of praise
goal hero Robbie
By Steve Hunter - LFC Official Website
Rafael Benitez was full of praise for goal hero Robbie
Fowler after the Toxteth predator settled a tight game with
a first half winner over Bolton.
Fowler celebrated his 31st birthday with a well taken goal
and Benitez felt the three points were certainly deserved
for his side.
"To score a goal and the winner is the best thing for a
striker and it was nice for Robbie on his birthday,"
"I like to see Robbie scoring goals and it is good for me to
see him working so hard and playing really well.
"We knew this game would be hard and a tough and physical
one. We had problems with free-kicks, throw-ins and long
balls in the first half but we were much better in the
"I made a change at half-time by bringing on Luis Garcia for
Cisse as we needed to keep the ball more and create more. I
felt we did that better in the second half and I told the
players at half-time we needed to keep the ball and pass the
"We now have 70 points and maybe one more win will give us
third place for sure."
The Liverpool manager also revealed that Momo Sissoko was an
unused substitute because he was one booking away from
missing the FA Cup semi-final against Chelsea.
Birthday boy sinks Bolton
By Peter ORourke - Sky Sports
Robbie Fowler celebrated his birthday with the only goal
in Liverpool's 1-0 win over Bolton.
The Liverpool hero struck right on the stroke of half time
to give the home side the three points on his 31st birthday.
The win was Liverpool's fifth on the trot and for Bolton it
was their fourth successive defeat and another dent in their
Bolton began brightly and went close to scoring on four
minutes when Kevin Nolan got on the end of Bruno N'Gotty's
free kick inside the box, but his shot lacked the power to
trouble Jose Reina.
The visitors really should broken the deadlock four minutes
later when the ball deflected into the path of Stelios
Giannakopoulos to send him clear on goal, but Reina produced
a fine save to keep out the Greek's low shot.
Liverpool were struggling to make any impact in the final
third with Bolton's midfield hassling them into mistakes,
meaning chances were few and far between.
Nolan broke the Liverpool offside trap on 22 minutes and his
attempted chip landed on the top of the net.
It took Liverpool until 28 minutes to have their first
noteworthy shot of the game with John Arne Riise fizzing a
long-range strike just wide of the target.
Harry Kewell created a good opening for himself on 37
minutes when he cut inside past Stelios wide on the right
and flashed a shot right across the face of goal.
Liverpool went close to scoring right on the stroke of half
time when Crouch rose highest to meet Steven Gerrard's
corner only to power his header straight at Jussi
Jaaskelainen on the line.
The Reds made the breakthrough in the dying seconds of the
first half when Fowler flicked the ball to Crouch and he
touched the ball back to his strike partner to drill a
left-footed half volley into the bottom corner.
Liverpool stepped up the pace at the start of the second
half and substitute Luis Garcia should have done better than
flick a free header wide from Gerrard's corner.
A minute later Garcia hit the side-netting with a
left-footed shot after being fed by Alonso inside the box.
Alonso was inches away from doubling the lead on 53 minutes
when he picked up a loose clearance on the edge of the box
and fired in a left-footed shot which thudded off the post.
Bolton had a great chance to equalise on 55 minutes when
Davies broke the offside trap to run clear onto Tal Ben
Haim's pass, but Reina was quickly off his line to block
Crouch wasted a good opening on 70 minutes when he got on
the end of Kewell's cross, but could only direct his header
straight at Jaaskelainen.
Kewell had the next chance for Liverpool on 82 minutes with
a powerful run from inside his own half, but the Australian
wasted all his good work by dragging his shot from the edge
of the box wide of the target.