| Leeds United players celebrate one of their three goals against Bolton Wanderers at the Reebok Stadium Monday. (Reuters)
London: Early goals from England’s Robbie Fowler and Danny Mills and a superb strike by Jason Wilcox gave under-fire Leeds United manager Terry Venables a boost with a 3-0 Premier League win over Bolton Wanderers on Monday.
Victory ended a run of four successive league defeats for Leeds, who remain 16th in the standings with 20 points from 18 games. Injury-hit Leeds were forced to weather an early storm at the Reebok Stadium against a Bolton side also embroiled in a fight to avoid relegation.
Paul Robinson smothered a long-range strike from Youri Djorkaeff while Per Frandsen and Jay Jay Okocha both blasted over. But two quick goals quickly changed the direction of the match. Mills was the architect and finisher of the first on 12 minutes, exchanging passes with Harry Kewell before beating Jussi Jaaskelainen with a thunderous drive from 20 metres for his first goal of the season.
Venables had been forced into starting with Fowler because of an injury crisis robbing him of a host of first-choice players, including Lee Bowyer and Mark Viduka. Striker Alan Smith was suspended.
Fowler, starting his first Premier League game for eight months after a career-threatening hip injury, showed he had lost none of his poaching instincts with a clinical finish four minutes after Mills’ opening strike.
The striker pounced to net from close range after the Bolton defence had failed to deal with Ian Harte’s cross. Harte’s ball struck the right-hand upright, Kewell headed back across goal and Fowler easily converted. It was his ninth goal against Bolton in six Premier League games.
Robinson then preserved his side’s two-goal cushion when he deflected Djorkaeff’s 23rd-minute penalty on to the post after Harte had handled.
Bolton, with just three league wins all season, enjoyed early pressure in the second half but the nearest they came to breaching Robinson’s goal was Stig Tofting’s powerful drive that skimmed the crossbar.
Midfielder Wilcox made sure of the points for Leeds when he thumped home a superb third goal in the 75th minute.