Martin Olsson’s super strike secured a crucial three points for Blackburn Rovers in a tense Lancashire derby against Bolton at Ewood Park.
The winger’s first-half strike was enough to separate the sides and move Rovers three points above the drop zone with a significantly better goal difference than the other teams near the bottom.
The 22-year-old was inspirational throughout, leading Blackburn to a deserved win in what was a must-win game with trips to the relegation rivals West Ham and Wolves and a home clash with Manchester United still to come.
But Blackburn’s first win since January came against an experimental line-up fielded by Bolton boss Owen Coyle, who made four changes to his side – the most noticeable being Adam Bogdan in favour of long-standing goalkeeper Jussi Jaaskelainen.
In a scrappy opening 15 minutes, Rodrigo Moreno struck a fierce half-volley off a knock down from Kevin Davies, which narrowly slipped wide of the near post with goalkeeper Blackburn Paul Robinson rooted to the spot.
Olsson then went close twice, Bogdan getting a touch to his first shot but missing the follow-up, which Bolton defender Paul Robinson headed off the line.
Moreno had another go at a half-volley, but his effort crashed against the post and away to safety.
Moments later, Olsson struck the crucial goal for Blackburn in the 20th minute with a sweetly-struck low drive from 20 yards.
They continued to dominate for the rest of the first half and went into the second chasing a second goal.
Benjani had a good chance after being picked out by a great ball from Brett Emerton but, with his back to goal, he could not quite turn to shoot.
Olsson made another storming run towards goal, but Bogdan was able to save well at his feet.
The hosts were dealt a blow when defender Michel Salgado was stretchered off in agony after a clash with Ivan Klasnic, but manager Steve Kean remained positive and replaced him with striker Mame Biram Diouf to prove his determination to increase the lead.
And the substitute had a golden opportunity almost immediately when he latched onto a great ball from Morten Gamst Pederson but his shot went well over.
Bolton finally found their feet late on and Gary Cahill was well blocked by Jermaine Jones and Martin Petrov hit a ferocious effort into the side netting.
And in the dying moments, Olsson lost the ball to Davies who played in Klasnic, but the substitute’s half-volley from the edge of the box was agonisingly off-target.