Gerrard's late winner makes point to Benitez

Bolton Wanderers 2 Liverpool 3: Captain gives perfect reply to manager's criticism as Liverpool battle back to down 10-man Bolton

Perhaps Rafael Benitez should be critical of Steven Gerrard more often if his captain responds to such comments like this. With the scores locked 2-2 and Liverpool's title ambitions in danger of collapsing before the transfer window has even shut, Gerrard struck with a trademark finish from 16 yards to earn his side victory against 10-man Bolton.

On the eve of Liverpool's visit here, Benitez had gone public with his concerns that Gerrard was not on top of his game yet the response from the midfielder ensured his side head into the international break in a positive frame of mind.

Outplayed by Tottenham and outfought against Villa, Liverpool arrived at the Reebok knowing they could be out of title contention with a third defeat in four games.

Yet despite the scoreline, this was a far from convincing performance by Benitez's men. Only when Sean Davis was sent off for two bookable offences, with Liverpool trailing 2-1 with more than half an hour remaining, did they take a firm grip.

Bolton had scored just once in four and a half hours of action this season but managed two in 47 minutes against a Liverpool defence which looked just as frail with debutant Sotirios Kyrgiakos, the Greece international playing alongside Jamie Carragher, as it had done earlier in the week against Villa. Yet Benitez opted to concentrate on the positives. Three points, a first away win of the season and a match-winning performance by Gerrard. "We can prepare for the next game and be a little bit more relaxed because of the result," the Liverpool manager said.

"It was a difficult game and twice we had to come from behind. Today, all the players wanted to impress and do well. They knew we had to improve and do well."

Liverpool started well. Had Fernando Torres been at his best then Bolton would have been down and out by half- time. Torres missed four chances alone in the first half while Albert Riera marked his first start of the season with a menacing performance.

Glen Johnson, too, was causing the Bolton defence problems yet Liverpool went behind when, 12 minutes before half-time, an unmarked Kevin Davies was allowed to tap home one of the easiest goals of his career after Liverpool had failed to deal with Matt Taylor's corner.

Benitez sat sit with his arms folded on the bench – as he did when his side equalised eight minutes later through the most unlikely of sources.

When Benitez decided to pay £17m to Portsmouth for Johnson, many thought he had overspent on a player who left Chelsea after failing to cement a regular spot.

But the England full-back has proved to be one of the few consistent performers for Benitez so far this term and his equaliser, his second goal for the club, was a delight.

This time it was the Bolton defence who were guilty of failing to stay awake. After struggling to clear a corner, the ball fell to Johnson who required just a couple of touches before finishing from 20 yards.

But Bolton have more spirit than their position at the foot of the table suggests and they regained the lead in the 47th minute through a sublime finish from Tamir Cohen, son of former Liverpool player Avi.

Davis was guilty of undoing all his side's hard work by getting sent off in the 55th minute. Having been booked towards the end of the first half, Davis was ordered off after bringing down Lucas.

Within seconds, Gerrard hit the underside of the bar before Torres rediscovered his scoring touch. Having spurned a string of chances in the previous 55 minutes, the Spanish striker beat Jussi Jaaskelainen with a composed finish after Dirk Kuyt had chested the ball into his path.

Gary Megson, the Bolton manager, was far from happy with the red card Davis had been given. "The referee got sucked into giving it," he said. "Steven [Gerrard] is bright and as soon as Sean got sent off he went deeper and deeper."

Attendance: 23,284

Referee: Alan Wiley

Man of the match: Johnson

Match rating: 8/10

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Giants Club: After wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, Uganda’s giants flourish once again

Uganda's giants are flourishing once again

After the wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, elephant populations are finally recovering
The London: After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

Archaeologists will recover a crucial item from the wreck of the London which could help shed more light on what happened in the vessel's final seconds
Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

The invention involves turbojets and ramjets - a type of jet engine - and a rocket motor
Tate Sensorium: New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art

Tate Sensorium

New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art
10 best sun creams for kids

10 best sun creams for kids

Protect delicate and sensitive skin with products specially formulated for little ones
Ashes 2015: Nice guy Steven Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

Nice guy Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

He was man-of-the-match in the third Test following his recall to the England side
Ashes 2015: Remember Ashton Agar? The No 11 that nearly toppled England

Remember Ashton Agar?

The No 11 that nearly toppled England
Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks