A sensational goal from the 19-year-old Portuguese youth international Ricardo Vaz Te - only his second for the club - kept Bolton on course to qualify for the last 32 of the Uefa Cup here last night although this was a less than convincing performance against a side who languish second to bottom of the Portuguese league.
In fact, Bolton had looked likely to suffer a defeat when Marek Saganowski gave Vitoria Guimaraes the lead with only four minutes remaining. But the arrival of Vaz Te, as an 87th-minute substitute for Jay Jay Okocha, produced results within a minute when he produced a brilliant curling shot from the edge of the penalty area after a neat lay-off from El Hadji Diouf.
It was Bolton's first game for 17 days - and it often looked like it. Jared Borgetti replaced Kevin Davies, who is suffering from a rib injury, and Bruno N'Gotty, Okocha and Hidetoshi Nakata came into the starting line-up for Radhi Jaidi, Gary Speed and Diouf. Nevertheless, after five successive victories before last night's game they might have been expected to show more authority against the bottom side in Group H.
Saganowski managed to find dangerous space on a couple of occasions as Guimaraes settled the better of the two sides and, after 21 minutes, he tested Jussi Jaaskelainen with a well-struck effort. Bolton's best opportunity of the first half came 10 minutes later Abdoulaye Faye flicked on a long throw and found Okocha. Kevin Nolan, who has seven goals to his credit this season, escaped his marker, but his close-range effort went wide of the post.
Guimaraes who looked the most threatening of the two sides after the interval.
Joao Neca tried his luck from distance only to see his effort clear the bar. Then Selim Benachour fired over the top in the 52nd minute.
The quality of Bolton's attacking play improved when Diouf was brought on as a substitute for Borgetti after 63 minutes. Nolan fired a shot on the turn that was well saved by Marcio Paiva and Stelios Giannakopoulos was also frustrated by the Guimaraes goalkeeper when he found an excellent shooting position,
After 86 minutes Guimaraes took what looked likely to prove a winning lead when Targinho crossed precisely from the left and Saganowski stooped to direct the ball into the corner.
Then Vaz Te entered the fray and produced the sublime finish which preserved Bolton's European ambitions.
Vitoria Guimaraes: Paiva; Mario Sergio, Dragoner, Cleber, Rogerio Matias, Svard, Flavio Meireles,Benachour, Neca (Paulo Sergio, 81), Dario (Targino, 60), Saganowski. Substitutes not used: Pedro Freitas, Moreno, Geromel, Manoel, Zezinho.
Bolton Wanderers: Jaaskelainen; O'Brien, Ben Haim, N'Gotty, Gardner, Nakata (Speed, 58), Faye, Okocha (Vaz Te, 87), Nolan, Borgetti (Diouf, 63), Giannakopoulos. Substitutes not used: Walker, Hunt, Fadiga, Jaidi.
Referee: L Duhamel (France).