Club Focus – Liverpool – Late Maxi goal lifts Reds up table

Liverpool climbed up to twelfth in the Premier League table thanks to a late Maxi Rodriguez strike against Bolton on Sunday. The Reds now have twelve points from ten games and are trailing fifth-placed Tottenham by just three points. Roy Hodgson’s side were far from their best, but clinching all three points mattered far more than the performance.

Fernando Torres’ commitment has come under much scrutiny recently and despite his winning goal against Blackburn Rovers last week, some were still questioning whether his mind is in the right place. The Spaniard was by no means at the top of his game during this match and his confidence is still somewhat lacking, however even a half-fit, half-confident, half-committed Fernando Torres is such a valuable weapon for the Reds. The striker proved his worth with the classy assist he provided for Maxi’s goal. It was a neat, clinical flick through the legs of the highly-rated English defender Gary Cahill, which was converted unconvincingly with a toe-poke by the Argentine midfielder.

Maxi, who was snapped up on a free transfer by former Reds boss Rafael Benitez in January, has also been criticised for his performances in a Liverpool shirt since his arrival. But, although the winger does not provide the pace and width that the Reds so desperately need down the flanks, his creativity can sometimes test opposition defenders. Scorer of a magnificent volley in the 2006 World Cup, Maxi came close to scoring another thrilling goal at the Reebok Stadium prior to his winning strike. The former Atletico Madrid man nearly smashed an overhead kick into the roof of the net, but that effort went just over.

Other than those two magical moments and an earlier chance for Torres, Liverpool were relatively poor and Bolton could easily have walked away with the victory. Holden, Elmander, Knight and Davies all had chances to win the match and the home side had two strong shouts for a penalty turned down by the referee. They claimed the first for what seemed to be a foul on Chung-Yong Lee in the area and then Jamie Carragher was fortunate that his apparent handball from Paul Robinson’s cross went unpunished.

Roy Hodgson was understandably ecstatic with the three points at the end and the former Fulham boss, who had not masterminded an away victory since the very beginning of last season, will be relieved that the Reds are finally climbing the table. Some fans remain unconvinced by Hodgson’s signings, attitude and tactics, but as long as he keeps leading Liverpool to victory, his job appears to be safe.

Next up for Liverpool is a Europa League fixture against Napoli at Anfield. Hodgson may decide to rest some of his key players for that encounter as the Reds look forward to a massive game against champions Chelsea in the Premier League next weekend. Hodgson will silence his critics with a positive result against the Blues, but a defeat would leave the manager under pressure once again.

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