Diouf drives Bolton towards Europe

Charlton 1 - Bolton 2
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The Independent Online

A vital matchwinner from Bolton's El-Hadji Diouf kept Wanderers on course for a place in Europe next season as they moved above Liverpool and into fifth place in the Barclays Premiership.

A vital matchwinner from Bolton's El-Hadji Diouf kept Wanderers on course for a place in Europe next season as they moved above Liverpool and into fifth place in the Barclays Premiership.

Diouf, a second-half substitute for Kevin Davies, finished off a sweeping Bolton move in the 58th minute by heading the ball into the roof of the net from Gary Speed's clever knockdown.

Bolton had taken the lead from the penalty spot in the sixth minute when Jay-Jay Okocha sent Charlton goalkeeper Dean Kiely the wrong way from the penalty spot after Hermann Hreidarsson had handled.

Charlton were level in the 29th minute through Francis Jeffers. The former Arsenal and Everton striker's shot took two deflections before beating Jussi Jaaskelainen in the Bolton goal.

The home side, with just one win from their previous eight games, were justifiably criticised for their recent poor defending by manager Alan Curbishley before the start of the game.

But Curbishley's hopes for a tighter defence were controversially dashed after just six minutes at the Valley when referee Alan Wiley awarded Wanderers a penalty for handball against Hreidarsson.

Bolton captain Okocha sent Kiely the wrong way from the resultant spot-kick to give Sam Allardyce's side a dream start. Understandably, the goal stung Charlton into action and in the ninth minute, Danny Murphy unleashed a right-foot volley which skimmed the top of Jaaskelainen's crossbar.

Bolton, knowing a victory would effectively end Charlton's lingering European hopes and cement their own position at the same time, continued to cause the home side more problems.

Kiely was forced to punch clear a dangerous free-kick from goalscorer Okocha and Kevin Nolan and Davies were a constant threat to Hreidarsson and Chris Perry.

Charlton almost hauled themselves level in the 28th minute when Murphy brought a super save from Jaaskelainen with a right-foot drive from eight yards.

A minute later Jaaskelainen was penalised by Wiley for handling the ball outside his penalty area and Charlton made the visitors pay with the leveller.

Murphy played the ball into the penalty area and Francis Jeffers let fly with a right-foot shot which hit two Bolton defenders on its way into the net.

Charlton's approach play lacked any finesse in the final third and too many stray passes allowed Bolton to control the game for long periods.

Three minutes into the second-half, Charlton signalled their intent to take the game to their visitors when Paul Konchesky let fly with a long-range shot that whizzed past the far post.

In the 54th minute, Allardyce replaced Kevin Davies with Diouf in order to add some pace and power to the attack - and four minutes later Wanderers regained the lead with a sweeping three-man move finished off by the substitute.

Diouf put Stelios Giannakopoulos clear on the right flank and his cross to the far post was intelligently headed back across the penalty area.

The ball was met by the onrushing Diouf, who cleverly nodded the ball over Kiely and into the roof of the net to give Bolton the lead once more.

Diouf was now in the thick of events and moments after his goal, the striker was left pole-axed by a challenge from Perry. Diouf claimed the Charlton centre-back had used his elbow but Wiley took no action.

Charlton, forced again to chase the game, were almost gifted a second equaliser when a poor clearance from Jaaskelainen fell to Dennis Rommedahl. But, with the Bolton goalkeeper racing back to his goal, Rommedahl could not find the power or the accuracy to beat him from 40 yards.

Diouf was causing Charlton's defence all kinds of problems and the visitors looked quite capable of adding to their tally. Bolton should have sewn proceedings up with 15 minutes remaining but Kiely made a fabulous save to deny Nolan when the Bolton man looked certain to score from 10 yards.

But substitute Jonatan Johansson squandered a great chance to equalise when he got on the end of a lobbed pass from Rommedahl in injury time - but Jaaskelainen saved comfortably.

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