Keane double keeps Liverpool on top
Robbie Keane kept Liverpool on top of the Premier League with two second-half goals as Rafael Benitez’s men sealed a 3-0 victory against Bolton Wanderers at Anfield here on Friday.
Keane, linked with a January move away from Anfield having struggled to impress since his STG20 million ($A43.25 million) July transfer from Tottenham, took his tally to three goals in two games as Liverpool made easy work of the visitors.
Despite earning the distinction of being Premier League leaders on Christmas Day, Liverpool went into this game with growing question marks over their ability to deliver the club’s first league title since 1990.
Four draws in their last five league games, including three at Anfield against unfancied Fulham, West Ham and Hull City, had left Benitez’s team with something to prove against Bolton.
Victory was a priority, if only to end their worrying run, but wins for Manchester United and Chelsea earlier in the day — against Stoke City and West Brom respectively — had made it even more important that Liverpool claimed all three points against their north-west rivals.
History, at least, was certainly on Liverpool’s side. Bolton arrived having failed to win a league game at Anfield since January 1954 and the home side were also aiming to round off 2008 without suffering a league defeat at Anfield in the calendar year.
The teams made a quiet start and neither goalkeeper was troubled until Argentinian full-back Emiliano Insua forced Bolton’s Jussi Jaaskelainen into a fine save with a 20-yard volley from a Steven Gerrard corner.
Moments later, Dutch forward Dirk Kuyt wasted a golden chance to open the scoring when he wastefully headed Xabi Alonso’s cross over the bar from just inside the penalty area.
With only Johan Elmander up-front, Bolton had little attacking threat with which to worry Liverpool and the home side continued to dominate possession, so it was no surprise when Albert Riera made it 1-0 in the 26th minute.
Bolton defender Jlloyd Samuel, who started the game badly, made another mistake when he allowed Riera to escape at the near post and volley Gerrard’s corner past the helpless Jaaskelainen.
Bolton manager Megson replaced Samuel with striker Kevin Davies at half-time in a bid to increase his team’s attacking threat, but it made no difference as Liverpool merely upped the tempo.
And the crucial second goal came in the 53rd minute when Keane beat Jaaskelainen with an unstoppable left-foot strike into the top corner after latching onto Gerrard’s through-ball.
And the Irish forward scored again five minutes later to take his league tally to five goals when he finished off a breathtaking move, started by goalkeeper Pepe Reina and followed by Alonso and Yossi Benayoun, with a tap-in from six yards.© AFP 2013
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