Premier League – Bolton virtually safe after win


Bolton Wanderers have almost certainly secured their Premier League status for another season with a 2-0 win over Sunderland at the Reebok Stadium.

FOOTBALL Bolton Wanderer El-Hadji Diouf - 0

El-Hadji Diouf‘s 42nd-minute strike and an own goal from Daryl Murphy won a match that the Trotters dominated from start to finish, and they remain three points clear of 18th-placed Reading.

Unless there is an 11-goal swing in the goal difference gap between Bolton and the Royals and Fulham win on the final day of the season, then the Lancashire side will be spending their 14th consecutive year in the top flight.

Diouf, who has been candid in his admission that he will definitely leave Bolton if they go down and probably even if they stay up, scored his first league goal of the year, his last coming in the 3-1 defeat at Sunderland last December.

The Senegalese forward was found with a cross from Bolton captain Kevin Nolan, and Diouf had time to control the ball with his chest before blasting an accurate finish past Craig Gordon into the far corner.

Murphy, on as a second-half substitute for Sunderland, then made the game safe for Gary Megson’s side when he headed into his own goal from a Bolton corner with ten minutes remaining. Andy Reid was at the far post for Sunderland but couldn’t clear the ball before had crossed the goal line.

It was vital that Bolton got all three points from this match, as they will travel to title-chasing Chelsea on the final day of the season.

They looked determined to do just that right from the off, keeping the ball virtually locked inside the Sunderland half.

The visitors were able to repel Bolton’s traditional long-ball and set-piece attacks, but striker Kenwyne Jones had almost no involvement in the match.

For all their endeavour, Bolton did not create a clear chance until the 28th minute when Kevin Davies, again working tirelessly for the Trotters’ cause, headed a decent Diouf cross over the bar.

Jones had one opportunity to score, but failed to get a touch on a Kieran Richardson pass when any sort of contact would have beaten Ali Al Habsi in the Bolton goal.

In the second half, Diouf hit the post with a diving header and, having seen enough, Sunderland manager Roy Keane made a triple-substitution on the hour mark.

The new players failed to have much of a positive impact on the match and one of them, Murphy, eventually conspired to help Bolton double their lead.

Tony Mabert / Eurosport

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