Bolton: Liverpool was surprised by the team with the worst home record in the English Premier League when it lost to Bolton Wanderers 3-1 on Saturday.
Former Liverpool forward David Ngog had a hand in goals for Mark Davies and Nigel Reo-Coker that seemed to put Wanderers well in control.
Craig Bellamy, a constant threat for Liverpool, halved the deficit in the 37th minute before becoming embroiled in an altercation with Reo-Coker as the teams went down the tunnel at halftime.
Then a first goal of the season for defender Gretar Steinsson restored the two-goal cushion for Bolton, which rose four points above the relegation zone.
Liverpool, which faces a midweek League Cup semifinal second leg at home to Manchester City, came no closer to scoring again than a long-range shot from defender Daniel Agger that struck the crossbar in the 70th.
Manager Kenny Dalglish, whose team also has a high-profile FA Cup fourth-round tie with Manchester United at Anfield on Saturday, accused his players of being distracted by the forthcoming cup games.
“The most disappointing thing for me is I don’t think we were ready to play the game,” Dalglish said.
“I don’t think the approach was correct, I don’t think the way we went about our work was correct. The foundation of the football club has always been built on respect for other people, built on the philosophy that the next game is the most important one, not the one that’s two or three down the line."
“If they needed a lesson to be taught to them then today was it. If they thought they could just turn up and get a result and not match the opposition for effort and commitment then they got a lesson today."
“If that was what the problem was, if they thought this game was not as important as the next one, then fine—but they won’t be here.”
The visitors, who had won their last 10 league meetings with Bolton, faced an uphill battle from the fourth minute when Chris Eagles’ pass was fed by Ngog into the path of Mark Davies. Despite Martin Skrtel at his heels, Davies scored past advancing goalkeeper Jose Reina.
Liverpool’s luck appeared to have deserted just before the half-hour when its strong penalty appeal for handball by Zat Knight was turned down, and moments later found itself trailing 2-0.
Bolton broke down the other end of Reebok Stadium with Ngog and Eagles exchanging passes before the latter played a lofted pass which Reo-Coker controlled on his chest and lobbed superbly over Reina.
“I’m thrilled for the players but even more happy for the fans,” Bolton manager Owen Coyle said. “At 2-1, Liverpool were back in the game but the fans got behind our players and that was pleasing to see. We’ve got to turn the Reebok into a fortress again and when you get that atmosphere here, it helps.”
Bolton keeper Adam Bogdan’s long clearance was headed back by Daniel Agger and on by Andy Carroll, springing Bellamy beyond the static Bolton defense before he scored from a dozen yards (meters).
Reina saved well on the stroke of halftime from a 20-yard (meter) Martin Petrov free kick, awarded after Bellamy fouled Reo-Coker, the source of their simmering argument.
But Bolton wasted little time after the restart restoring a deserved two-goal cushion. A spell of pressure ended with Petrov’s left-wing corner being met at the far post by David Wheater, who headed across goal and found the unmarked Steinsson to drive home from around the penalty spot.