Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Newcastle 0-3 Liverpool

Liverpool put the friction between manager Rafael Benitez and the club's board behind them to beat Newcastle.
Gerrard, booed by Magpies fans for his part in England's Euro 2008 qualifying failure, answered the jeers by powering in a 30-yard shot for the Reds.
Fernando Torres hit the post after Newcastle keeper Shay Given escaped a red card for blocking his initial shot with his arm outside the area.
Dirk Kuyt bundled in a Reds second before Ryan Babel slid in the third.
The home fans turned on Magpies boss Sam Allardyce in the second half but had earlier vented their frustrations at England's Euro 2008 heartbreak by booing Gerrard with his every touch.
But the midfielder looked a different player on Liverpool duty and was helped by a lacklustre and injury-ravaged Newcastle side gifting the visitors the majority of possession.
Liverpool took their time in trying to prise a way through the Magpies defence and a swerving Gerrard strike forced Given into desperately punching the ball to safety.
The pressure built as Newcastle continued to be strangers to the ball, and Gerrard responded to the catcalls in emphatic fashion by breaking the deadlock.
He gave Given little chance of reaching his fiercely struck shot after Lucas Leiva, making his first Premier League start, rolled a free-kick to him.
Newcastle's solitary chance of the first half came when Alan Smith controlled a ball on his thigh and volleyed just wide of the far post with an effort across goal.
The Reds should have been two-up on the stroke of half-time and keeper Given dismissed for Newcastle.
He came storming out of his goal as Liverpool counter-attacked and, as Torres tried to curl a shot around him with the outside of his foot, blocked with his arm.
Torres should have side-footed into an empty net from 25 yards when the ball again broke to him but he hit the post, while referee Alan Wiley took no action against Given.
But the visitors wasted no time after the break to add a second with Sami Hyypia flicking a low corner with his right foot on to Kuyt, who guided in with his shin from point-blank range.
Torres twice went wide as he struggled to make the most of regular opportunities coming his way as the home fans vented their frustrations on Allardyce.
They showed their discontent when Joey Barton came on instead of James Milner.
The fans then cheered when Milner finally came on but the jeers were back with the attack-minded Charles N'Zogbia being taken off to make way.
Liverpool showed little sympathy as Babel played a neat one-two with Gerrard and sidefooted in a shot.
The scoreline could have been worse for Newcastle but for Given as the supporters also made their anger with their team and manager clear at the end.
· Newcastle assistant boss Nigel Pearson: "It was a poor performance from us but I thought they were exceptional and we have to put matters right.
"We have to work hard and stay with each other and it will happen, there is no place to hide and we don't plan to.
"We must put these kind of performances behind us because they are not up to the standard we expect from ourselves."
· Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez: "The performance was almost perfect.
"The team played really well and with a lot confidence and they passed the ball around well and kept a clean sheet.
"Our team has kept the momentum and there are a lot of players performing and it's the kind of display that you want to see."
Newcastle: Given, Geremi, Beye, Rozehnal, Jose Enrique (Carr 78), Smith, Butt, Emre (Barton 51), N'Zogbia (Milner 59), Viduka, Martins.Subs Not Used: Harper, Edgar.
Booked: Butt, Beye, Smith.
Liverpool: Reina, Finnan, Carragher, Hyypia, Arbeloa, Gerrard (Crouch 80), Lucas, Sissoko, Kewell (Babel 58), Torres, Kuyt (Riise 76).Subs Not Used: Itandje, Mascherano.
Booked: Sissoko.
Goals: Gerrard 28, Kuyt 46, Babel 66.
Att: 52,307 Ref: Alan Wiley (Staffordshire).

Rafa Bayern talk rubbished

Bayern Munich and Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez have moved quickly to scotch claims he could take over at the German side next summer.
Reports over the weekend suggested that current Bayern boss Ottmar Hitzfeld's relationship with chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge has become strained of late and he could be on his way out of the Allianz Arena come the end of the season. However, while Rummenigge has admitted directing some critcism towards the club's 58-year-old coach, he is confident of keeping him in Bavaria and even suggested a contract extension will be offered.On Hitzfeld, who rejoined Bayern after Felix Magath's sacking in February for his second spell in charge of the club, Rummenigge said: "Our relationship of confidence remains intact. You can criticise someone you consider a friend when you believe that things don't go in the right direction."He added: "We agreed we will discuss an extension of his contract in January."Benitez also reacted to the rumours by insisting he is not interested in quitting Liverpool as he wants to continue his plan to turn the Merseysiders into consistent Premiership title and Champions League contenders.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Liverpool 2-0 Fulham

Fernando Torres' superb individual goal and a Steven Gerrard penalty pushed Liverpool up to fourth as Fulham again imploded in the last 10 minutes.
Torres twisted and turned to get the better of Aaron Hughes, before beating goalkeeper Antti Niemi with a low shot.
Peter Crouch, who hit the bar with a first-half header, won the penalty when he was fouled by Carlos Bocanegra and Gerrard's spot-kick was unstoppable.
Niemi was superb for Fulham in goal, making a series of top-class saves.
During midweek Liverpool had thrashed Besiktas 8-0 in the Champions League, but Fulham proved less accommodating as Rafa Benitez named an unchanged side for the first time in over a year.
Prior to Saturday's game, Liverpool had drawn four home games and for 80 minutes Fulham looked they might be another side to come away from Anfield with a point.
But not for the first time this season Fulham, who now have conceded goals in the last 10 times seven times this season, failed to last the course.
Deploying David Healy and Shefki Kuqi in attack, Fulham tried to get their midfield players to support them as quickly as possible in the early stages of the game.
Kuqi's aerial presence caused Liverpool problems, while former Reds midfielder Danny Murphy tried his luck with a couple of long-range efforts.
Kuqi worked tirelessly for Fulham, tracking back to help out his defenders.
And Fulham's defensive organisation ensured Liverpool struggled to create clear chances in an even first half, ensuring Niemi had only one real save to make in the opening period from Sami Hyypia's shot.
Andriy Voronin briefly unsettled the Fuham defence when he emerged unmarked at the far post, but after controlling the ball on his chest he misplaced his pass.
Even so Liverpool were unlucky not to go in at the interval ahead when Crouch's looping header bounced off the bar.
Just after the restart Crouch headed the ball down to Voronin, but the Ukrainian forward's shot was comfortably gathered by Niemi.
On 55 minutes the Fulham keeper had an altogehter less comfortable moment when he was momentarily deceived by Fabio Aurelio's free-kick, before recovering to make the save.
Soon afterwards Niemi had to push the ball over the bar from Voronin's rising shot, though Voronin was to completely miss his kick when Liverpool's next chance arrived.
Niemi's best save of the game came from Yossi's Benayoun's chip which looked goalbound before the Finn got one hand to the ball and pushed it past the post.
Benayoun had an influential game for Liverpool and a clever pass released Voronin, but the Ukrainian's shot flashed past the post.
On came Ryan Babel and Torres and the Spanish striker's arrival proved decisive.
Liverpool goalkeeper Jose Reina played a part in Torres' goal, his huge kick finding his Spanish compatriot deep in the Fulham half.
Torres' tricky bamboozled Hughes and having created space the former Atletico Madrid beat Niemi with a low shot inside the near post.
Crouch was then tripped by Bocanegra and Gerrard's powerful penalty gave Niemi no chance.
· Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez:"Their keeper was really good but we were creating chances and at the end we could score a second goal because they were a little bit open.
"We knew Fulham would work hard till the end but we needed to keep going, passing the ball and trying to do our job.
"It's always important to win, but especially when you know that for 10-15 days you won't have another game, so our people will be happy for at least 10-15 days!"
· Fulham boss Lawrie Sanchez:"I thought we pretty much contained them in the second half but the problem was we thought we had coped so well we could go on and nick it.
"We're not a bad side but we're not quite at the level where can live with a team like Liverpool for 90 minutes.
"But overall I'm pleased with the performance. When you come to a place like this you know they can go away from teams but we stayed with them until the end."
Liverpool: Reina, Arbeloa, Carragher, Hyypia, Aurelio, Benayoun, Mascherano (Lucas 81), Gerrard, Riise (Babel 62), Voronin (Torres 70), Crouch.Subs Not Used: Martin, Finnan.
Goals: Torres 81, Gerrard 85 pen.
Fulham: Niemi, Baird, Hughes, Stefanovic, Bocanegra, Davies, Davis, Murphy, Dempsey (Kamara 69), Kuqi, Healy (Bouazza 60).Subs Not Used: Warner, Smertin, Leijer.
Booked: Murphy, Dempsey.
Att: 43,073
Ref: Steve Tanner (Somerset).

Liverpool 2-0 Fulham

Fernando Torres came on to inspire Liverpool to victory as Rafa Benitez's men scored twice in the last nine minutes to finally overcome Fulham.
The £25m Spanish striker emerged from the bench with 20 minutes remaining, with Liverpool once again struggling to turn their dominance into goals.
It took Torres just 11 minutes to strike a wonderful opener, collecting keeper Jose Reina's punt and embarking on a powerful run which saw him twist inside Aaron Hughes before beating inspired keeper Antti Niemi with a low shot.
Steven Gerrard sealed victory five minutes from time from the penalty spot after Peter Crouch had been tripped by Carlos Bocanegra - although television replays proved the offence took place marginally outside the box.
Liverpool may have demolished Besiktas by a record Champions League score in midweek, but there was still an element of disbelief around Anfield when it was announced that Benitez had named an unchanged line-up.
It was the first time in 59 games that the Spaniard had decided against tinkering with his team.
That meant Torres once again had to be content with a place on the bench, with Peter Crouch handed his second Premier League start of the season - and his first since September.
Benitez knew that a victory was vital if his team were to regain momentum in the title race after two successive draws.
Despite being unbeaten in the league, the Merseysiders began the evening six points adrift of leaders Arsenal due to the fact that four of their previous five home games this term had ended in stalemate.
Fulham, like their hosts, have built up a reputation as draw specialists, with half of their 12 games ending level.
Last week's win over Reading was only the Londoners' second victory of the campaign.
The game represented an Anfield return for Danny Murphy, the former England midfielder who had arrived at Fulham via Spurs after a medal-laden time with the club of his boyhood dreams.
Murphy was on target with the first shot of the game after just 11 seconds - his drive from 20 yards bringing a comfortable save from Pepe Reina.
Liverpool's response was a drive from Sami Hyypia, which was redirected past his lefthand post by Niemi.
Then, after the contest had become more subdued, Gerrard was angry with himself when he found time and space on the edge of the box only to fire well over.
Murphy seemed to be on a mission to prove to Benitez that selling him was a mistake and he gave Reina an even bigger test when he met Clint Dempsey's knock-down with a volley from 18 yards which the Liverpool keeper was again equal to.
Liverpool's growing frustration was cranked up another notch when Gerrard found Crouch smuggling himself around the back of Hughes, but the Irish defender reacted well to clear the danger as the Reds' striker shaped to shoot.
Then Euro hat-trick hero Yossi Benayoun directed Alvaro Arbeola's cross away from the incoming Gerrard as another chance went begging.
Liverpool continued to fail to make their increasing dominance tell - and they weren't helped when Andriy Voronin's charge on goal from Gerrard's pass was halted by a dubious offside call.
Niemi almost handed the home side a gift when Benayoun's header was deflected high into the air and the Fulham keeper spilled a routine catch before snatching the loose ball off the toes of Crouch. Then Crouch cursed his luck in first-half injury-time when he finally found a way past Niemi with a looping header from Fabio Aurelio's free-kick, but his effort came bouncing back off the crossbar.
Voronin opened the second half by forcing Niemi into a smart save, meeting Crouch's downward header with a volley that brought a smart stop from the Finn.
That was the cue for Liverpool to really crank up the pressure - and the second period was a constant succession of home attacks.
Gerrard did his best to galvanise his men and after robbing Steven Davis in the centre circle he powered forward towards goal only to be halted by Murphy's cynical tackle.
Murphy was booked and Aurelio thought he had exacted more retribution with a curling free-kick that Niemi seemed to misjudge before realigning himself to save.
Voronin was first to the rebound but, under pressure from Dejan Stefanovic and Hughes, he could only direct his shot over from point-blank range.
Niemi saved well again when Voronin linked up well with Crouch and generated a shot with great power but not enough direction to beat the keeper.
Then Voronin missed his kick completely from Gerrard's cross after Stefanovic's desperation to prevent a corner had presented the Liverpool skipper with possession.
Lawrie Sanchez took off striker Healey and replaced him with midfielder Hameur Bouazza, while Benitez decided that Riise would make way for Ryan Babel.
Within seconds Babel had teed up Benayoun to clip a glorious shot towards the top corner, but Niemi excelled again with a stunning finger-tip save.
Twenty minutes from time came the call for Torres, with Voronin the man to make way (SEE PHOTO) - and that turned out to be the decision which finally allowed Liverpool to make their superiority count.


Peter Crouch admits fellow striker Fernando Torres was the difference between the sides in Liverpool's 2-0 victory over Fulham on Saturday.
The Spanish striker was introduced after a frustrating 70 minutes for the Reds – and it didn't take him long to open the scores after latching onto a long ball from Pepe Reina. Crouch said: "We've got a lot of quality in the squad and I thought all the boys did well, but Fernando when he came on offered us something different. Credit to him, he got the goal and it all opened up. "We had to be patient because of Fulham's game-plan, they defended well and it was hard to break them down. But I felt we were always on top and they couldn't keep it up. I think it would have been a few more if the game had gone on a bit longer." The England international was instrumental in Liverpool's second on 85 minutes when he was tripped by Carlos Bocanegra. Referee Stephen Tanner pointed to the spot, though replays were not conclusive on whether the foul was inside the box. Crouch joked that he would have scored anyway. "I don't know if it was in or outside the box – it was borderline but I was ready to take a shot and no doubt that would have flown in. "It was definitely a foul. Sometimes you get them and sometimes you don't, and thankfully Stevie tucked it away really well."

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Liverpool 8-0 Besiktas

Yossi Benayoun grabbed a hat-trick as a rampant Liverpool beat Besiktas to keep their Champions League campaign alive.
Peter Crouch slotted in after his first shot was saved to open the scoring.
Benayoun took down a cross and lashed home before twice side-footing in after John Arne Riise and Steven Gerrard had strikes parried into his path.
Gerrard powered in a shot, Ryan Babel backheeled in a deft goal and then deflected in a Besiktas clearance before Crouch nodded in for an eighth.
Liverpool came into the game with their backs against the wall as they needed victory to keep alive any realistic hopes of progressing in the competition.
The Reds started with the urgency their predicament merited but saw Mehmet Sedef shoot wide at the near post after a cross from Matias Delgado.
The home side heeded the warning as a sign to swarm forward in greater numbers.
Crouch nodded a ball into the path of Andriy Voronin, who shot disappointingly wide, and then got the power on a header from Riise's cross only to see his effort go wide.
Right-back Alvaro Arbeloa was consistently marauding forward and he crossed for Benayoun to guide a shot against the outside of near post.
The inevitability of the Reds goal finally came when Edouard Cisse inadvertently played Crouch through on goal with a tackle towards his own goal.
Crouch netted the rebound as he scored the goal Liverpool craved to settle nerves before Riise had a header cleared off the line.
Voronin then found Benayoun at the far post and the Israeli took two touches to control and then lash in a shot to add a second.
Liverpool continued to scythe through Besiktas after the break and Benayoun had a simple tap-in for a third after keeper Hakan Arikan could only parry a Riise shot into his path.
The fourth from the Reds came much the same way when Arikan failed to gather a fiercely driven Gerrard free-kick and Benayoun poached a another goal for his hat-trick.
The stunned Turkish visitors had little answer to Liverpool's play as the Anfield side refused to let up. And another goal soon followed as a superb backheel from Voronin put Gerrard through on goal as the two players produced a neat one-two, which the Reds skipper finished with a stinging shot.
Benayoun turned provider late on when he crossed low for Babel and he audaciously back-heeled in at the near post.
Dutch forward Babel chased down a long ball and was rewarded when a clearance struck him and looped into the net.
Babel even had time to head against the crossbar, while Crouch glanced in a header from a Benayoun cross to complete the rout and the biggest win in the Champions League.
Liverpool: Reina, Aurelio (Babel 63), Hyypia, Carragher, Arbeloa, Riise, Mascherano, Gerrard (Lucas 72), Benayoun, Voronin (Kewell 72), Crouch. Subs Not Used: Martin, Finnan, Torres, Kuyt.
Goals: Crouch 19, Benayoun 32, 53, 56, Gerrard 69, Babel 79, 81, Crouch 89.
Besiktas: Arikan, Uzulmez, Toraman, Diatta, Kurtulus (Higuain 62), Sedef (Ricardinho 78), Cisse, Avci, Ozcan (Tandogan 46), Delgado, Bobo. Subs Not Used: Rustu, Yozgatli, Kas, Karadeniz.
Booked: Ozcan.
Att: 41,143
Ref: Markus Merk (Germany).

Peter Crouch hits new heights

Peter Crouch disappeared under a pile of bodies, perhaps consumed by mixed emotions. Having put Liverpool ahead in last night's must-win Champions League tussle with Besiktas and, having capped a sensational team effort with the eighth goal, his obvious delight might not only have been tinged with a sense of relief, having played so little football over the last few months, but also with a hint of sadness.
Might Crouch be leaving all this behind in January? Might he be saying goodbye to this grand old arena and to the famous Kop that still sings his name? In short, might he be forced to leave Anfield after seemingly failing to convince his manager that he can still do a job on a regular basis? After all, nobody wants to be sitting on the bench all the time, even if it is at England's most successful club.
On this occasion, however, Rafael Benitez decided that the time was right to give his unhappy centre-forward a rare start, on a night when the team simply had to win to have a chance of remaining at Europe's top table.
Actually, I wonder how that felt - getting the nod for such a crucial match while knowing, deep down, that your manager isn't too fussed; that three other strikers now stand ahead in the pecking order, when last season you could do little wrong.
Benitez, however, has always known that Crouch could create a different set of problems to the other cards in his pack, especially on a night when a more direct style seemed the best way, initially, to disturb the composure of vulnerable Turkish visitors.
As a result, Benitez dispensed with the services of Dirk Kuyt, who had been enduring a tough time in front of goal anyway. And with Fernando Torres not quite ready to play from the start after returning from injury, the Spanish coach turned to his 6ft 7in centre-forward to help the team out of this sticky situation.
And help out Crouch did with that precious opening goal, a testament to the big man's persistence, determination and cool head at the end. Latching on to a half-hearted interception by Edouard Cisse, Crouch's first effort cannoned off the goalkeeper but he gamely kept going to slot home the rebound.
Cue the celebration, a joyous run and dive down by the corner flag. Crouch's team-mates looked genuinely pleased to see the change of fortune. That first cut, what's more, would prove the deepest, for Besiktas never recovered from that moment on. Just over an hour later, Crouch jumped unchallenged to set the scoring record.
In fairness, Crouch could have kicked off the deluge earlier than he did. Meeting John Arne Riise's whipped cross inside the first 10 minutes, his downward header thumped into the advertising hoardings instead of bulging the net. Then, for some reason, he tried to get his head to Andrei Voronin's low cutback instead of sticking out one of his long legs. Such misjudgments on another night might have proved costly. Not this time. Crouch had happened on a match when everything went right.
You might say that the 26-year-old stood in the shop window, if it is indeed true that Benitez wants rid. They say, after all, that the pair have fallen out, that the manager doesn't approve of the player's so-called celebrity lifestyle. Model girlfriend, autobiography, personal appearances - perhaps Benitez thinks his man has taken his eye off the ball.
If so, quite a few Premier League clubs will be waiting with Aston Villa thought to beheading the queue. Martin O'Neill is known to like that type of player and, come January, the Irishman could confirm his admiration with an attractive offer.
For now, however, Crouch could still play a big part in Liverpool's efforts to qualify from Group A. ''He's big, he's red, his feet stick out the bed." The Kop's tribute to their hero can still be heard. For how much longer, only Benitez can say.


YOSSI BENAYOUN put Liverpool’s Champions League campaign back on track last night.
The Israel ace grabbed a hat-trick as Rafa Benitez’s side romped to a vital and emphatic 8-0 win.
Peter Crouch set them on their way, and strengthened his case for a run in the team, with a typically determined goal in the 19th minute.
Benayoun took centre stage with three goals in 24 minutes either side of half-time.
The first was a slick volleyed finish, and although the other two were simpler they were no less important.
They settled any nerves the home side might have had, but fans wondered just how Liverpool had lost to Besiktas in Istanbul two weeks ago.
That feeling was reinforced as Steven Gerrard, sub Ryan Babel (2) and then Crouch again completed the scoring.

Benitez issues warning to Porto

Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez believes his side's 8-0 home thrashing of Besiktas will put fear into their next Champions League opponents Porto.
The Reds now need to beat Porto at Anfield and win in Marseille in their final two group games to secure their progress to the knockout stages.
"The next one is against Porto and at least we will have confidence and the supporters will believe," said Benitez.
"Porto need to come here to Anfield and they will be worried for sure."
He added: "The rest of Europe will also be aware of what we have done.
"But in the end we still have to win those last two games, regardless of how many goals we scored this time."
Yossi Benayoun notched a hat-trick, Peter Crouch and Ryan Babel each scored twice, while Steven Gerrard also grabbed a goal as Liverpool's victory saw them bag a record Champions League win.
"We have been creating a lot of chances in previous games, but not scoring them," said Benitez.
"Today we scored early and the game opened up. Besiktas also had to win to keep their chances of qualifying going so they had to come out and try to attack and that gave our forwards space to use.
"It made our movement easier, the space was there and our strikers were on very good form.
"But we still must win the next two and then wait to see if it is enough."
The win was also Liverpool's biggest in Europe for 27 years and leaves them on four points, with Group A leaders Porto on eight points and Marseille in second on seven points.
"When you create chances, score hat-tricks and play that well, it gives all the front players - Yossi, Ryan and Peter, plenty of confidence that they can attack and be successful," said Benitez.
"If you score then you have confidence, that is the difference from the way we have played recently.
"But this was an all-round performance by the whole team. (Andriy) Voronin did not score but he was hugely influential in what went on, his play was unselfish and effective.
"He did a tremendous job, and the defence kept a clean sheet so there was very little for me to complain about, just a few minor things."
Besiktas coach Ertugrul Saglam, who did not answer questions at the post-match news conference, was shell-shocked and apologised to the club's fans.
"It was a very bad night for our team, and fans," he said. "The result was very upsetting for us and I would like to say sorry to all our fans.
"It is very difficult to accept this result, but life does go on and we have to work much harder now to improve in the future. I can promise our fans we will do that."


Yossi Benayoun struck a superb hat-trick to ensure Liverpool's Champions League dream remains intact as they hit eight without reply to overwhelm Besiktas at Anfield.
The Israeli completed his treble at the Kop end as other goals from Peter Crouch (2), Steven Gerrard and substitute Ryan Babel (2) gave everyone hope that Rafael Benitez's men can still reach the knockout stages. On a night of milestones, in which Sami Hyypia made his 100th appearance in European competition and Rafa Benitez celebrated his 50th Champions League match in charge of Liverpool, the Reds started strongly and could have taken the lead on four minutes but Andriy Voronin steered his shot wide after a great knock down by Crouch. The visitors looked shaky in defence and three minutes later Crouch somehow powered a header wide after John Arne Riise's cross found him unmarked six yards out before Alvaro Arbeloa's heavy touch prevented him from getting a shot on goal after wonderful link up play with Benayoun. The Israeli was enjoying himself and on 13 minutes he was unlucky to see his first-time shot cannon back off the near post after Javier Mascherano had played in Alvaro Arbeloa down the right. It was only a matter of time until Liverpool got the breakthrough and it was fitting that the impressive Peter Crouch was the man to get the all-important first goal. Voronin's attempted through ball was diverted into the towering forward's path on 19 minutes and after his first effort was saved by Hakan Arikan in the Besiktas goal, he reacted instantly to fire home the loose ball. The Reds were in complete control and three minutes later Fabio Aurelio's corner was met by a powerful header by John Arne Riise but the Norwegian's goalbound effort was brilliantly headed off the line. Crouch then fired a sizzling effort just wide from a tight angle before Benayoun netted his third goal in a Red shirt on 32 minutes. Andriy Voronin broke down the left and when his searching cross found the Israeli unmarked in the box, he composed himself before drilling the ball past the keeper. It was a comfortable lead for Liverpool to take into the interval and it got better within minutes of the restart. Voronin cut in from the left and played a reverse ball to Riise and when his stinging shot was parried into Benayoun's path the midfielder tapped home the simplest of goals. And it was déjà vu on 56 minutes when the diminutive playmaker completed his hat-trick at the Kop end, gleefully snapping up the rebound after Steven Gerrard's powerful free-kick was pushed into his path by the bemused Arikan. The hosts were playing some wonderful football by this point and on 69 minutes Gerrard got in on the act when he latched onto Voronin's return ball to power in on goal and smash in the fifth of the night. It means the skipper is just one away from equalling Michael Owen's European record of 22 goals and he owes a huge debt of gratitude to Voronin, who clocked up his fourth assist of the evening with an inspired Cruyff flick. The Reds then capped an incredible night with the sixth on 78 minutes when substitute Ryan Babel finished off Benayoun's cross with an audacious flick at the near post. It was all going Liverpool's way and on 81 minutes Ryan Babel charged down an attempted clearance and watched on in delight as it looped over Arikan and into the net. Babel could have had his hat-trick on 84 minutes but his close range header smashed back off the bar before Crouch finished what he had started way back in the first-half, when he headed home Benayoun's cross two minutes from the end.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Gerrard Issues War Cry

Faced with the prospect of an early exit from the Champions League as Liverpool take on Besiktas at Anfield tonight, Steven Gerrard has issued a rallying call, urging his teammates to go for the jugular.
Liverpool are four points off second place as they head into tonight's clash, and must win in order to have any realistic hope of progressing to the knock-out stages.
Defeats to Marseille and Besiktas along with a draw against Porto mean that the Reds need a series of magical European nights, and skipper Steven Gerrard has urged his team to go on a rampage.
"We know we need a night like [against] Juventus, like Chelsea and like Olympiakos.
"That was probably the last time we found ourselves in a similar position.
"Our backs were against the wall and unfortunately that’s where we are again — but we know we can do it.
"We have to give the fans something to get excited about and that’s the aim when the referee blows his whistle."
"Tonight is hugely important and we have to make a fast start to rock Besiktas early," he continued. "I said two weeks ago we face three cup finals and I haven’t changed my position.
"I don’t think we have anything to fear from Besiktas. And it would be nice if we could send out a message to the rest of the teams in our group with a really strong result.
"When we get it right there are very few teams, if any, that can live with us and we have to get it right tonight.”
"We’ve left ourselves absolutely no margin for error. We didn't make the most of our chances in Turkey and we won't make the same mistake at Anfield.
"We know one more slip will end our interest in the tournament and so we want to go for the jugular from the first whistle."

Reds duo confident of vital victory

Rafael Benitez and Jamie Carragher have joined forces to demand a big performance from Liverpool's players and fans when they host Besiktas.

The Reds have to beat the Turkish outfit at Anfield in a make-or-break Champions League Group A match to have any realistic chance of reaching the last 16.
Manager Benitez could have striker Fernando Torres back - with a training session on Tuesday set to seal the Spaniard's fate.
But Benitez said: "I am confident we can win this one.
"That is because I see my players in every training session and I know what they can do, especially at Anfield in front of our own people.
"The players know we need character and quality. We did not expect to lose to Besiktas in Turkey, now we must win this one, and we will be trying hard to do that and we believe we can.
"We know our fans will help us - we must give them a big performance and I know they always give us a big performance too."
Carragher knows Liverpool must not only win tonight, but that victories against Porto and Marseille in the final group matches are also imperative.
He said: "We aim to win all three, but let's concentrate on beating Besiktas first before we start thinking about what we do in the last game in Marseille.
"We must win this one, then move on to beat Porto. That's two home games and our crowd will play a big part, then we will think about what we must do in Marseille.
"We are not worrying too much about what happens if we do not qualify, and I don't even see that as a disaster. It's just football, but if we don't get through we could qualify for the UEFA Cup and we would be confident going into that.
"Obviously we want to be in the Champions League, we want to play against the best and show we can compete against them. But we have done that anyway in the last couple of years or so with two final appearances.
"If it happens we have to get on with it. It would be a disappointment, not a disaster, and it would still be a massive season ahead for us with genuine targets."
Carragher echoed his boss's call for the fans to play their part in what could be another stirring night on Merseyside.
He added: "The atmosphere at Anfield is one of the main reasons we have done so well in the Champions League.
"The manager and the players have played their part but so have our fans, and we need them now.
"They got us to finals in Istanbul and Athens. Now we need them because we all accept we have not done as well as we should have in the first three games in the group.
"The Kop can have a massive part to play now in keeping us in the tournament."

Benitez relaxed over Reds future

Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez says his job is safe despite the Reds battling to stay in the Champions League and a slow start to their domestic season.
Liverpool are bottom of their Champions League group, having picked up just one point in three games, and seventh in the Premier League.
Benitez insisted Liverpool's owners are remaining "very, very positive".
"I felt they are really focused and supporting so I think the future is great," he told BBC Radio 5 Live.
If the Reds lose at home to Besiktas on Tuesday, the 2005 European champions will almost certainly be out of the competition.
Defeat would also leave them in danger of missing out on the Uefa Cup spot available to sides who finish third in their Champions League groups.
Despite the cloud hanging over Liverpool's current form, Benitez pointed to the club's European exploits in recent years.
"Tell me how teams can be in two finals in the Champions League in three years?" he said, insisting co-owners George Gillett and Tom Hicks share his vision for the club's future.
"They must be pleased with the way the team and the club is going because we are changing a lot of things and I think we are progressing."
And Benitez dismissed suggestions that an early exit from the Champions League this year would cost the club between £17m and £20m.
"That is the money only the finalists get and only two clubs can do that," he said.
"The financial implications in losing are not as big as people suggest.
"But we must think about football first and not to be bothered by other things - that will be taken care of later.
"I have talked to the owners, but not about money, just our ideas for the future."
Defender Jamie Carragher has revealed he feels "it is not a disaster" if Liverpool do not reach the next stage of the competition.
"We can't win all the time," he said. "We have a good record in the Champions League and will look to keep that going.
"We do still want to be in the Champions League. But if it doesn't happen we just have to get on with it."

Gerrard Issues War Cry
Faced with the prospect of an early exit from the Champions League as Liverpool take on Besiktas at Anfield tonight, Steven Gerrard has issued a rallying call, urging his teammates to go for the jugular.
Liverpool are four points off second place as they head into tonight's clash, and must win in order to have any realistic hope of progressing to the knock-out stages.
Defeats to Marseille and Besiktas along with a draw against Porto mean that the Reds need a series of magical European nights, and skipper Steven Gerrard has urged his team to go on a rampage.
"We know we need a night like [against] Juventus, like Chelsea and like Olympiakos.
"That was probably the last time we found ourselves in a similar position.
"Our backs were against the wall and unfortunately that’s where we are again — but we know we can do it.
"We have to give the fans something to get excited about and that’s the aim when the referee blows his whistle."
"Tonight is hugely important and we have to make a fast start to rock Besiktas early," he continued. "I said two weeks ago we face three cup finals and I haven’t changed my position.
"I don’t think we have anything to fear from Besiktas. And it would be nice if we could send out a message to the rest of the teams in our group with a really strong result.
"When we get it right there are very few teams, if any, that can live with us and we have to get it right tonight.”
"We’ve left ourselves absolutely no margin for error. We didn't make the most of our chances in Turkey and we won't make the same mistake at Anfield.
"We know one more slip will end our interest in the tournament and so we want to go for the jugular from the first whistle."

Blackburn 0-0 Liverpool

Blackburn and Liverpool shared the points in a tightly-contested match.
Rovers should have been in front by the interval after twice hitting the woodwork through David Bentley's effort and David Dunn's wonderful shot.
The game was more even in the second half, and both Christopher Samba and Dirk Kuyt could have done better for the visitors in promising positions.
Late on Brad Friedel twice saved Steven Gerrard shots, Peter Crouch went close with a header and Kuyt missed badly.
Liverpool deployed Kuyt as a lone striker, though Gerrard tried to get forward in support as often as possible.
But with Ryan Nelsen and Samba getting the better of the Dutchman, who has failed to score a league goal in open play this season, Liverpool struggled once the ball reached the Blackburn area.
Liverpool's wide players, Yossi Benayoun and Ryan Babel, also found the going tough - as did Blackburn's wingers Morten Gamst Pedersen and Bentley.
And with the play congested in midfield, both sides laboured to create scoring opportunities.
Finally after 34 minutes Blackburn did just that - and came desperately close to scoring - as Pedersen and Bentley came infield to link up well.
Bentley collected Pedersen's flicked header and his low shot grazed the foot of Jose Reina's post.
Four minutes later the game was treated to its first meaningful save when Friedel threw himself to his left to push away Babel's powerful shot.
Just before half-time Dunn was desperately unlucky not to score when his superbly executed shot crashed off the bar.
Dunn limped off at the end of first period and although he re-emerged for the second half he was soon to be replaced by Tugay.
The game was more open up after the interval and Samba might have done better when John Arne Riise failed to clear, but the Blackburn defender delayed his shot.
Just past the hour Kuyt failed to pick the right pass with Gerrard in wonderfully promising position.
Gerrard then drew two fine saves from Friedel, while substitute Crouch had a header cleared off the line by Bentley.
In the closing minutes Kuyt missed a glorious chance after good work by Harry Kewell and the Dutchman then went close with an angled shot.
Blackburn manager Mark Hughes:"It was a very good game. There were a number of chances for both teams. There were clear cut chances that on another day would have gone in.
"It was an evenly-matched game. But the last ten minutes were difficult for us.
"Liverpool had a number of chances and our keeper Brad Friedel did well for us when we were tired."
Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez:"I am disappointed. We deserved to win. We created very, very clear chances - and plenty of them.
"When the game became more open we had more control and went forward. We had more offensive players.
"We must think about the positives, we had a lot of possession and a lot of chances. In the second half, their goalkeeper was their best player."
Blackburn: Friedel, Ooijer, Samba, Nelsen, Warnock, Emerton, Bentley, Dunn (Kerimoglu 56), Pedersen, Santa Cruz, McCarthy (Derbyshire 89).Subs Not Used: Brown, Khizanishvili, Treacy.
Liverpool: Reina, Finnan, Carragher, Hyypia, Riise, Benayoun (Crouch 72), Sissoko, Mascherano, Babel (Kewell 63), Gerrard, Kuyt.Subs Not Used: Martin, Arbeloa, Lucas.
Booked: Carragher.
Att: 30,033
Ref: Martin Atkinson (W Yorkshire).