Nolan steals the thunder after lightning strike

Blackburn Rovers 3 Bolton Wanderers 4
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The Independent Online

Goals flowed in industrial quantities at Ewood Park but it was one of exquisite quality from Youri Djorkaeff that turned a pulsating match Bolton Wanderers' way.

Bolton had just fallen two goals behind thanks to two pieces of rank bad defending when their French maestro latched onto a long clearance and worked his way into what seemed an unthreatening position on the left fringe of the Blackburn penalty area.

As Brad Friedel left his far post, however Djorkaeff flighted his chip perfectly to leave him stranded and sneak in. Bolton never looked back and were full value for their first top-flight victory at Ewood since 1962.

"It was the hardest chance of the game and he's put it away," said his admiring manager, Sam Allardyce. "It was a wonderful, wonderful goal. The execution of it and his second-half performance shows that he's still a top-drawer player.''

Rovers' Graeme Souness also recognised it as the pivotal moment. "To score at that time handed the initiative to them," he said. "It was vital to the outcome of the game, but from the first 10 seconds to the 93rd minute, we didn't defend well."

Bolton had started in swift and spectacular style, with one of the quickest goals in Premiership history after just 13 seconds. Emerson Thome hit the ball upfield, the former Rovers misfit, Kevin Davies, somehow stopped it from going dead, and hooked it back for Kevin Nolan who thumped it into the roof of the net.

The lead lasted only a little longer than it took to earn, Vratislav Gresko cutting in from the left and beating Jussi Jaaskelainen with a left-footed shot after three minutes.

The game calmed down after that but not much. Thome had a goal-bound header saved by Friedel before Andy Cole infuriated the away fans by appearing to rake Nicky Hunt with his studs. They clearly regarded a yellow card as inadequate punishment, especially after Cole's part in the two goals that gave Blackburn their 3-1 lead.

With Hunt still off the field having treatment, Thome failed to cut out Brett Emerton's cross and Cole side-footed it back into the middle for Dwight Yorke to score.

"It should have been Blackburn with 10 players, not us," said Allardyce. "That could have been very, very costly for us."

Nine minutes later, Bruno N'Gotty's weak header sold his goalkeeper short and Cole himself lobbed the ball into the net.

A win that would have leapfrogged Blackburn above Bolton now looked very much on the cards, but Djorkaeff's goal changed the balance of power with the Wanderers dominant after the break.

Their siege on the Blackburn defence finally paid off after 73 minutes when the industrious Hunt's cross and Davies' back-header wrong footed Rovers for the substitute, Stelios Giannakopoulos, to pounce for the equaliser.

Five minutes later, Blackburn failed to clear Djorkaeff's corner and Nolan shot home his second. Allardyce called it "the finest comeback" of his reign at Bolton and it was one well worth all three points.

Blackburn Rovers 3
Gresko 3, Yorke 24, Cole 34

Bolton Wanderers 4
Nolan 1, 78, Djorkaeff 43, Giannakopoulos 73

Half-time: 3-2 Attendance: 23,538

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