Liverpool came from behind with two late goals to overcome ten-man Bolton Wanderers and avoid becoming the latest high-profile FA Cup scalp.
Neil Danns second-half sending off proved the turning point as Eidur Gudjohnsen’s penalty was cancelled out by Raheem Sterling. Philippe Coutinho’s spectacular stoppage time strike secured the Reds a Fifth Round trip to Crystal Palace.
Bolton Wanderers 1-2 Liverpool
The FA Cup
Fourth Round Proper replay
Wednesday 4 February
Macron Stadium, Bolton
Winning club receives £90,000 from FA Prize Fund
Having failed to break down the Bolton defence at Anfield over a week ago, Brendan Rodgers named an attacking line-up with Raheem Sterling spearheading Lazar Markovic, Adam Lallana and Philippe Coutinho up front.
With one eye on the weekend’s Merseyside derby, however, fit again Daniel Sturridge was made to settle for a place on the bench as he had done on his goal-scoring comeback against West Ham four days earlier.
While Gudjohnen partnered promising starlet Zach Clough in the Bolton attack, they were joined up top by defender Matt Mills as Neil Lennon sprung a surprise selection choice.
The gulf in class showed for much of the early stages with the Premier League outfit beginning the brighter.
Out-going Liverpool skipper Steven Gerrard created the first chance following a spell of intricate passing between Sterling and Coutinho, but Andrew Lonergan was equal to the low drive.
Coutinho saw a chance of his own fire wide from distance and, though Lonergan spilled Sterling’s effort, the Bolton ‘keeper recovered well to smother the chance as Lallana threatened to pounce.
The hosts responded with Gudjohnsen blasting over, before David Wheater headed straight into the hands of Simon Mignolet.
The hosts should have been made to pay for those missed attempts when Sterling clipped the outside of the woodwork. Alberto Moreno found Lallana, who in turn slipped the ball to Sterling, only for the 20-year-old’s composed finish to miss the target.
Liverpool headed into the game having suffered just two defeats in their last 16 and they looked the likelier to break the deadlock.
Sterling was twice denied in quick succession after the break with Dorian Dervite blocking superbly and Lonergan palming away a curling effort towards the top corner.
Lennon’s side hadn’t lost to their visitors in their last three FA Cup meetings, however, and when Martin Skrtel felled Clough in the penalty area, Bolton fans began to believe that their side could extend that run.
Veteran striker Gudjohnsen stepped up and made no mistake, calmly striking through the middle and giving the hosts an unlikely lead.
It’s a lead they may have maintained had Danns not received a second yellow card for a needless challenge on Allen. But, down to ten men and with their backs firmly against the wall, the hosts were forced to retreat by their opponents.
Former Wanderers loanee Sturridge joined the action as waves of Liverpool pressure tested the Trotters’ resolve and an equaliser seemed imminent when Henderson first went close and Emre Can rattled the bar.
Yet, almost inevitably, it was Sterling who slotted home an equaliser with just six minutes left on the clock, finishing superbly from ten yards after a wonderful lofted pass from Can.
Not happy to settle for extra-time, Liverpool showed their Championship opponents no mercy and Coutinho broke Bolton hearts to secure his side’s progress with a splendid curling effort in off the bar in the dying moments.
Bolton Wanderers (4-3-2-1): 24 Andrew Lonergan; 7 Liam Feeney, 31 David Wheater, 14 Dorian Dervite, 3 Dean Moxey; 25 Josh Vela, 18 Neil Danns, 5 Tim Ream; 40 Zach Clough; 22 Eidur Gudjohnsen; 4 Matt Mills (c).
Substitutes: 17 Liam Trotter for Clough (70)
Substitutes not used: 34 Ross Fitzsimons, 2 Kevin McNaughton, 11 Rob Hall, 41 Oscar Threlkeld, 46 Georg Iliev, 52 Tom Walker.
Goals: Eidur Gudjohnsen 57
Yellow cards: Danns 31, 65
Red card: Danns 65
Liverpool (4-2-3-1): 22 Simon Mignolet; 23 Emre Can, 37 Martin Skrtel, 17 Mamadou Sakho, 18 Alberto Moreno; 24 Joe Allen, 8 Steven Gerrard (c); 50 Lazar Markovic, 10 Philippe Coutinho, 20 Adam Lallana; 31 Raheem Sterling.
Substitutes: 14 Jordan Henderson for Lallana (51), 29 Fabio Borini for Markovic (63), 15 Daniel Sturridge for Allen (68)
Substitutes not used: 52 Danny Ward, 2 Glen Johnson, 9 Rickie Lambert, 19 Javier Manquillo.
Goals: 31 Raheem Sterling (85), 10 Coutinho (90+1)
Referee: Roger East.