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Page last updated at 18:09 GMT, Saturday, 3 May 2008 19:09 UK

Bolton 2-0 Sunderland

By Andrew McKenzie

El-Hadji Diouf
Diouf broke the deadlock just before half-time

Bolton virtually safeguarded their Premier League status with a battling victory at home to Sunderland.

El-Hadji Diouf put them ahead just before half-time when he controlled a Kevin Nolan cross before firing home.

He should have added a second when he met Matthew Taylor's cross with a header that was denied by the post.

Sunderland could have made them pay but Kenwyne Jones missed a glorious chance before a Daryl Murphy own goal handed Bolton three crucial points.

We are not completely safe yet - Megson

The win means that Bolton are three points ahead of the drop zone, but with their far superior goal difference it means they can go to Chelsea next weekend with their relegation fears eased.

Sunderland's position was secured with a win at Middlesbrough a week ago and the difference in the two sides' needs was evident for much of the game as Bolton dominated possession.

But it was also clear why Bolton had only managed 33 goals this season prior to the game.

They were boosted by Kevin Davies's return after suspension to provide a target up front but too often their delivery was wayward.

The away side offered little up front until after the break, but by then they were behind to Diouf's first league goal since December, when he scored in a defeat at Sunderland.

Keane furious at 'unacceptable' performance

Three minutes before half-time Nolan was allowed plenty of room to pick out the forward with his cross from the right.

Diouf, who was playing in his final home game for the club, was given the time to control and fire past the body of Jonny Edwards and the hands of Craig Gordon.

Michael Chopra tested Ali Al Habsi after a run across goal was followed by a low strike from 25 yards, but the Bolton keeper gathered relatively comfortably.

606: DEBATE
Eaomatrix
Diouf had a great chance to ease the home side's nerves when Taylor took advantage of a Dean Whitehead slip and picked him out at the back post, but this time he headed against the post.

Minutes later Chopra headed over from an Andy Reid cross as an animated Bolton boss Gary Megson looked increasingly agitated on the sidelines.

Sunderland made a triple substitution on the hour and Roy O'Donovan almost made a rapid impact when he headed a Reid centre into the path of Jones only for the striker to miss the ball completely in front of goal.

At the other end Diouf headed wide from a long row by Jlloyd Samuel.

However, the Trotters were spared an agonising last five minutes when substitute Murphy, who scored the goal that secured Sunderland's safety, headed a Taylor corner past Gordon and Reid was unable to clear off the line.

Barring a hammering at Chelsea and other results going against them, Megson's men will be in the top flight again next season.


  • Bolton manager Gary Megson

    "I can't ask any more of them in terms of every game they have played and the effort they have put in.

    "We can play better because results haven't been enough to get us into a position where we hope a club like this could be, but in terms of where we were to where we are I can't complain at all.

    "We haven't played brilliantly this afternoon but we play with our hearts on our sleeve and give everything we've got."

  • Sunderland manager Roy Keane

    "You know what you are going to get against Bolton and you have to deal with it, we are a passing team but we didn't do that.

    "You're always playing for your future and we reminded the players of that.

    "In the bigger picture we've managed to stay in the Premier League but we need improvement next season."


    Bolton: Al Habsi, Steinsson, Andrew O'Brien, Cahill, Samuel, McCann, Nolan, Guthrie, Diouf, Davies, Taylor.
    Subs Not Used: Walker, Meite, Giannakopoulos, Cohen, Rasiak.

    Booked: McCann.

    Goals: Diouf 42, Murphy 83 og.

    Sunderland: Gordon, Nosworthy (Murphy 61), Higginbotham, Evans, Collins, Miller (Leadbitter 61), Whitehead, Reid, Richardson, Chopra (O'Donovan 62), Jones.
    Subs Not Used: Fulop, Yorke.

    Att: 25,053.

    Ref: Martin Atkinson (W Yorkshire).

    BBC Sport Player Rater man of the match: Bolton's Danny Guthrie (7.14 on 90 minutes).

  • Please note that you can still give the players marks out of 10 on BBC Sport's Player Rater after the match has finished.




    see also
    Premier League as it happened
    03 May 08 |  Premier League
    Saturday's football photos
    03 May 08 |  Football
    Bolton Player Rater
    19 Dec 06 |  Live Text
    How to watch Match of the Day
    08 Oct 07 |  Match of the Day


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