Liverpool keep top four hopes alive

Dirk Kuyt eases the pressure on manager Rafa Benitez as Arsenal move to the top.

    A Liverpool fan shows his support for manager Rafa Benitez [GALLO/GETTY]
    Liverpool moved to within a point of the top four and a place in next season's Champions League with a 2-0 win at home to fourth-placed Tottenham Hotspur in the English Premier League.

    Arsenal recovered from two goals down to beat Bolton 4-2 and go top of the league.

    Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez has come in for heavy criticism while the Reds' Champions League hopes have suffered blow after blow and they went into this match with star players Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres missing because of injury.

    But despite once again fielding a team that was far from full strength, they took the lead through Kuyt's early strike.

    Kuyt scored at the start and the end to give Liverpool victory over a Tottenham side that had not conceded a goal for six matches.

    For the sixth-minute opener, Italy midfielder Alberto Aquilani controlled a long kick by goalkeeper Jose Reina on his chest and slipped a pass to Kuyt as the Netherlands forward ran past him.

    Kuyt shot past goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes into the bottom corner and then scored an injury-time penalty to move Liverpool to sixth place, just a point behind of Tottenham.

    Bolton lead

    Tomas Rosicky and Cesc Fabregas pulled Arsenal level after Bolton had surged into a surprise 2-0 lead. Defender Thomas Vermaelen made it 3-2 with a fierce shot and with five minutes left Andrei Arshavin scored the goal that put Arsenal into first place on goal difference.

    It was the first time Arsenal have recovered from 2-0 down to win a Premier League game in almost two years - the last was against the same opponent - and confirmed the impression that Arsenal are a genuine contender for a first Premier League title since 2004.

    Arsenal joined Chelsea on 48 points, one more than defending champion Manchester United.

    Arsenal are unbeaten in the league since November but were helped by a contentious goal, with Bolton's players and coaching team angry about the circumstances that led to the 52nd-minute equaliser.

    Bolton midfielder Mark Davies was lying injured by what looked to be a dangerous challenge from defender William Gallas, who stretched to regain possession after giving away the ball but instead stamped Davies' ankle.

    Rather than kick the ball out to allow Davies to be treated, Arsenal played on and the ball fell to Fabregas at the edge of the area.

    The Spain midfielder darted between two players, pushed it past the lunging challenge of a third and finished with a shot through the goalkeeper's legs from a narrow angle.

    Davies was carried from the field on a stretcher after several minutes of treatment and replaced.

    Early lead

    Results & fixtures

    Wednesday January 20

     Arsenal 4-2 Bolton
     Liverpool 2-0 Tottenham

    Saturday January 23

     Man Utd v Hull

    Tuesday January 26

     Bolton v Burnley
     Portsmouth v West Ham
     Tottenham v Fulham,
     Wolverhampton v Liverpool

    Abou Diaby and Andrei Arshavin both went close for the home side before Cahill put Bolton ahead in the seventh minute after Diaby and Clichy failed to clear the ball from the area.

    Clichy hacked the ball into the air, Bolton captain Kevin Davies headed back toward goal and Gary Cahill scored with low shot from close range.

    Matt Taylor scored 11 minutes later with a penalty awarded for Denilson's late challenge on Lee Chung-yong and Arsenal looked to be in big trouble until Rosicky scored in the 44th.

    Rosicky carried the ball into area, took a touch to earn a little space in front of defender Zat Knight and hit a powerful right-foot shot past goalkeeper Jussi Jaaskelainen at the near post.

    Fabregas equalised after more pressure and Vermaelen put the Gunners ahead for the first time with a 12-yard shot after the ball rebounded to him.

    Arsenal looked like they would have to settle for second place in the standings but Arshavin took advantage of a favourable bounce to dodge a challenge and slip the ball past Jaaskelainen for 4-2.



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