Okocha's magic has Charlton in a spin

Bolton Wanderers 4 - Charlton Athletic 1
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Jay-Jay Okocha, Bolton's playmaker and one of the Premiership's brightest talents, baffled many pundits last season by going through the entire campaign without a single goal to his name.

Jay-Jay Okocha, Bolton's playmaker and one of the Premiership's brightest talents, baffled many pundits last season by going through the entire campaign without a single goal to his name.

The Nigerian international fired 110 shots without reward and hit the woodwork with alarming ease. But memories of past frustrations were erased in style yesterday as he netted twice and stole the show with an impish performance at the Reebok Stadium that inspired Bolton to a comprehensive win over Charlton.

In between the step-overs, jinks and flicks that entranced both sides' supporters, Okocha found time to curl home a superb free-kick from 25 yards, set up a goal for Henrik Pedersen and prod home his second strike after a delightful side-step. He was, quite simply, outstanding.

"The guy doesn't feel pressure - he has a bigger smile than Dwight Yorke," quipped Bolton's manager Sam Allardyce. "He's always relaxed and he knows, as a man and as a footballer, what life is all about. I don't mind a few scrappy goals, but all four were well taken and the best was the first. You'll go a long way this season to better his free-kick. Magnificent. The other lads weren't bad either."

Perhaps relishing their first home start to a Premiership season, Bolton began brightly as they probed the Charlton defence, and it was only 12 minutes before they took the lead. Kevin Davies was felled and Okocha flighted the free-kick past Dean Kiely to end his goal drought.

Charlton contested well enough, but Okocha was providing the cutting edge and his 40-yard through-ball to the striker Pedersen on the half-hour was sublime. Pedersen stumbled but staggered through on goal before striking home left-footed to put Bolton 2-0 ahead.

Ivan Campo, eager to get in on the act, fired narrowly wide, although a late shot from Hermann Hreidarsson before the break suggested that Charlton could still fight their way back into the game.

The visitors lifted their work-rate in the second half in a bid to stifle Okocha, and Danny Murphy and Shaun Bartlett hit speculative efforts as Charlton tried to find their feet. But Okocha made it 3-0 just before the hour-mark. Good link-up play in midfield ended with a deft through ball from Pedersen. A deceptive flurry of feet later and Okocha was past Jon Fortune and through on goal.

The bemused expressions on the Charlton players' faces illustrated the apparently unstoppable influence of Okocha. But six minutes later, as Bolton showboated shamelessly, Charlton barged their way back into the game with a Kevin Lisbie header from Murphy's corner.

The goal could have prompted a nervy run-in for Bolton, but Okocha was in no mood to have his party ruined and he was soon flashing another long-range effort narrowly wide before Pedersen netted his second, Bolton's fourth, with a powerful finish after 72 minutes.

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