Liverpool pay the penalty
By Patrick Goss
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
An early goal from Mario Jardel had left last year's winners Liverpool looking nervous, but when stand-in captain Danny Murphy headed home from a fine Salif Diao cross on 66 it appeared that the home side were back on track.
However, Bolton regained the lead through a sublime Jay-Jay Okocha free kick, and although the hosts levelled once more through Vladmir Smicer, Diao felled Kevin Davies in the box in the final minute, and Youri Djorkaeff lashed home off of an upright to seal a thrilling victory.
A fascinating first half, if sedate by comparison, had seen Bolton score early - survive a Liverpool purple patch - and then end the half strongly.
It was Jardel who opened the scoring, and somewhat inevitably the Brazilian converted with a header from a set piece, nodding home with aplomb after losing his marker Emile Heskey.
Liverpool should have been level soon after, a free kick from John Arne Riise spilled by Kevin Poole straight to the feet of Smicer.
However the goalkeeper did well to recover, and Smicer could not steer the ball past him.
Heskey was the next to miss - the England international slipping embarrassingly at the crucial moment after a blocked Anthony Le Tallec effort had fallen kindly to him in the area.
Murphy saw a free kick drift narrowly over, but the storm had largely been weathered and Bolton could, and should, have doubled their advantage before the break.
Henrik Pedersen will know that he should have done far better with a free header from inside the box, but the Dane could not capitalise on a great cross from Anthony Barness.
As the second half progressed Liverpool brought on Steven Gerrard following the equaliser from Murphy - and must have felt that the game was theirs for the taking.
But an incredible last 15 minutes brought thrills aplenty - starting with a disallowed goal for Djorkaeff, who had handled the ball as he bundled it over the line.
Okocha then despatched an incredible free kick - which left Jerzy Dudek standing, and Smicer turned onto a Harry Kewell through ball and curled a superb finish to tie things up at two apiece.
However, Bolton won it at the death when substitute Kevin Davies lured Diao into a silly challenge and fell gleefully to the ground knowing full well that referee Mike Riley would not hesitate to point to the spot.
The ball was handed to Djorkaeff - and the World Cup winner blocked out the pressure to fire the penalty in courtesy of Dudek's right post.
Liverpool will feel that this was an opportunity wasted - but for Bolton this was a wonderful and hard-fought victory that will buoy everyone at the club.
| ||Liverpool||Bolton W|
|Shots on target||6||5|
|Shots off target||6||5|